A word about the songs
Half past ten
O great spirit
People get ready (Curtis Mayfield)
We are one
Bird of paradise (Snowy White)
God's perfect circle
Angels watching over you (trad.)
Each holy child (Shaina Noll)
10. All over the world
11. Falling through time (Time Lord mix)
12. Blessings on your soul (Mariachi mix)
O Great Spirit consists of 6 brand new Asher compositions, three cover versions and a traditional, spiritual ballad. Also, there are two bonus tracks... re-mixes of two very popular tracks from 2010's Falling Through Time. Though each track is vocal, there are also lengthy, sublime instrumental passages, and O Great Spirit is a vintage Asher recording, full of melody, emotion, passion, joy and hypnotic, other-wordly rhythms and mystical lyricism.
'Half past ten' is a spellbinding, visionary, exalted folk song that opens the album, set the pace and establishes the spiritual intensity of the whole work; the title track 'O great spirit' is a Sufi chant Asher composed over 30 years ago, set to a thrilling and powerful shamanic drum rhythm; 'People get ready'... an anthem written by Curtis Mayfield back in the 60's... is given a one-world makeover here, which develops into a mantra combining sacred words from different spiritual traditions. Then there is the profound and mesmerising 'We are one', which has a swirling Celtic, Breton feel, and a spiritually unifying message, followed by a deeply touching, piano-based rendition of Snowy White's 80's classic 'Bird of paradise'. 'God's perfect circle' is a gentle and yet dramatic essay in spiritual awareness and awakening, followed by a spirited, intimately sung acoustic guitar-pick version of the traditional 'Angels watching over you'. Shaina Noll's powerful, pure and innocent 'Each holy child' is interpreted vigorously and plaintively by Asher, and leads into the delicately rhythmic and catchy 'Thanksgiving', with the piano melody being the foundation stone of this humble offering. The new collection closes with a new, joyous, 'live' in-concert, love and peace anthem entitled 'All over the world', introduced briefly with a whimsical, gently barmy Elvis drawl.
The hugely popular title track from Falling Through Time is re-created as a bonus track... simplified, and with a soaring lead guitar solo from Kristian Biddiss, and the equally popular 'Blessings on your soul' is also simplified and offered as a bonus track, now including a Mariachi-style trumpet refrain.
The whole album also contains overtones of the Solfeggio tuning forks, designed to promote balance and healing with their pure and ancient sound frequencies, and they contribute profoundly to the loving, joyous, spiritually uplifting, passionate, emotional and positive nature of the recording.
Album review by Matthew Forss
The New Age leanings of the U.K’s Asher Quinn have been inspirational, cinematic, and far-reaching across different cultures, traditions, and societies for a long while now. O Great Spirit follows in that same vein, but it touches souls deeper than anything previously released by Asher. His enigmatic compositions are brought right to the forefront of the genre on his latest release by incorporating sparse percussion, soaring vocals, and washes of sound that fill the heart with nothing but joy.
'Half Past Ten' begins with a grungy, acoustic guitar introduction before Asher’s quivering voice echoes the folksy sound of English, Scottish, or Irish singers. The guitar sound is broken up with keyboard washes and a wavering violin played intimately and with reserve. An angelic voice embellishes Asher’s voice at different points in the song. The cinematic keyboard effects are calming and serene, which resemble the music of Enya. A sparkling, metallic sound occurs a few times throughout. The latter half of the song features the accompaniment of a frame drum that adds a slightly tribal, Middle Eastern, and majestic overtone. The entire mix of sounds and English vocals comes to an end with a steady, solfeggio tuning fork tone signalling the end of the song.
'O Great Spirit' opens with Asher’s Arabic invocation that is accompanied by symphonic keyboard washes and a steady, sauntering, frame drum beat. Angelic choruses rise up from the background. A combination of female vocals, backup vocals, and Asher’s lead vocals provide a mesmerising mix of sounds that culminate into an organised array of ear-friendly reverberations. The composition is punctuated with a sparsely-played, flamenco-tinged guitar near the end of the song. In short, the ambulating frame drum and spiritual vocals reflect the mood of a Te Vaka or Enigma track.
'People Get Ready' opens with a giddy, folk guitar and harmonica. Asher’s voice is folk-centered and carried by keyboard washes, drum kit, and bluesy harmonica. The classic singer-songwriter style of the 1960s or 70s is quite evident on this track. A catchy beat is interrupted with a few light, rock guitar notes. Still, the music is symphonic with back-up vocals and a combination of harmonica, acoustic guitar, drums, piano, and keyboard washes. 'We Are One' begins with a punchy piano solo and Asher’s charismatic voice. The wavering violin comes in and a snare drum enters the picture. This song appears almost militaristic rhythmically, but that is only in sound. The message is peace throughout, and the delivery is top-notch.
'All Over The World' opens with the sound of a live concert. Then, Asher’s voice kicks in with the acoustic guitar. The B3 sounds and drum kit add a nice feel to the groovy mix. The melody is sweet and catchy. The folksy, roots sound is characteristic of a French or Wallonian hit. The music of William Dunker comes to mind. The rousing melody and jaunty tune ends with rousing applause, which is equally-fitting for the entire album.
There are twelve compositions on Asher’s new work and all of them are a little different, but equally excellent throughout. Asher’s tender vocals take on folksy, bluesy and spiritual characteristics that carry the album to higher dimensions. The combination of keyboard washes, light drum-work, acoustic guitar, pensive piano and an assortment of strings, harmonica, and electronic embellishments make O Great Spirit a favourite among New Age listeners, as well as crossover pop, folk, and easy listening aficionados. The extreme catchiness of the music and the spirituality of the lyrics are produced in such a way as to make Asher’s new album his best work to date. In fact, O Great Spirit is the best album in the New Age genre and it would be a shame if it did not win a Grammy Award.
Album review by Heath Andrews
Though he has not achieved the same commercial success as some musical brethren, such as Enya, Yanni, and Kitaro; Asher Quinn has been around the new age music scene nearly as long as any of them have. Not only has his career enjoyed longevity, but Quinn’s music is just as healing, inspirational, and relevant today as it ever has been. It’s with these qualities that the 2012 album, O Great Spirit has been created. By drawing continued inspiration from his deep spirituality and the predictions of an “ending” of sorts in 2012, Quinn’s latest effort both draws from his previous albums and sets it's sights on the future.
What makes Quinn’s approach to the new age genre so refreshing is his ability to make a song engaging yet relaxing, and simple but deep. “Half Past Ten,” the album’s lead-off track is a wonderful example of the way he’s able to balance these opposing elements. The simple acoustic rhythm that the song opens with continues for almost the entire six and a half minutes of the piece. The gentle keyboards that accompany the fulsome twelve-string, provide a textured atmosphere that allows Quinn’s lyrics and vocals to carry more meaning. “Now angels are carrying me/Now I’m flying into the light/Now I’m disappearing into light/Now I’m vanishing into light/Now I am light…” He sings during the final minutes. The written page doesn’t do the lyric justice; it takes wing when paired with the arrangement.
The title track is based on a Sufi chant that Quinn worked into a lyric and sings in Arabic. As big of a listening adjustment as this may seem to be, based on the straightforwardness of the track prior, it’s really not. Quinn is joined by vocalist Katie Theodossiou whose lovely vocals work beautifully with his layers of vocals and shamanic drumming. Surprisingly enough there’s even a guitar solo thrown in for good measure in the later part of the song, a masterful interlude from Kristian Biddiss.
Speaking of pleasant surprises, Quinn pulls out a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready,” which is done so well, you’d think it was originally conceived as a new age piece. Quinn modifies the song by slightly altering the lyrics and adding in a beautiful chant, but the gorgeous arrangement is what stands out the most. Aside from the usual guitar and keyboards, there’s a rather bluesy lead guitar lick and some engaging harmonica playing that makes this such a memorable and fun performance. Quinn also does a version of the Snowy White song, “Bird Of Paradise,” the traditional piece, “Angels Watching Over You,” and a song from Shaina Noll, “Each Holy Child.” The latter of these two songs also include some fine harmonica playing from Quinn and strong melodious arrangements.
The two strongest songs are saved for the end of the album. “Thanksgiving,” the penultimate song, is built primarily off of a very soothing keyboard melody, once again allowing the lyrics to take the centre stage. Quinn sings greatly of his thanks, “I feel eternal as I spin around/In life & death, rebirth and living/I feel completion in this sacred place/And I offer you thanksgiving.” This leads into the similarly themed “All Over The World,” which is extremely catchy. Borrowing a bit in its riff and rhythm from Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger,” Quinn closes things with an addictive, fun, and adventurous tune, soothing in its message but captivating in its energy.
There are several other highlights on O Great Spirit, beautifully produced, engineered and additionally arranged by sound engineer Shaun Britton; “We Are One” has an intensely powerful beat and a wonderful spirit of unity within its lyric. And, for being a shorter song, “God’s Perfect Circle” features a magnificent build-up that rivals “All Over The World” in being one of the most entertaining parts of the album. To cap things off, Quinn includes two bonus new mix tracks, both from his previous album. It’s easy to hear why these were included as bonus tracks considering that they fit in with the sound of the album, so well .
If the year 2012 is going to bring about an ending of any sorts, Asher Quinn feels it’s going to be a far more spiritual experience than Hollywood films would suggest us to believe. Quinn feels that an enlightenment will begin to be ushered in and an eventual dissolving of ignorance and intolerance will take place, coinciding with an ascension of people’s consciousness and spirit. O Great Spirit is a testament to that belief. Whether or not a joyous occasion like this occurs, Quinn’s music still stands as a wonderful and enjoyable message of the kind of love and hope that mankind should strive for.
Album review by Wildy Haskell
Whatever name or persona you’ve come to know Asher Quinn by, be contented to know that there is much more you’ve yet to see! Quinn continues to add to his impressive canon of songs written and performed with each album. An intuitive pianist from his diaper days, Quinn has never allowed convention to get in the way of great composition. His well-heeled British school days certainly didn’t impair his talents, and Quinn has made a career of standing outside the fire and observing through the filament of song the world around him. On his latest album, O Great Spirit, Quinn observes a fire more spiritual than ephemeral; delving into deeply theistic themes while maintaining a safe distance from any one doctrinal path.
O Great Spirit opens with 'Half Past Ten', a quiet prayer in song that begins a long night of soul searching and discovery. The call of the Spirit is central here, and a coming out of darkness that is paralleled by that of the Apostle Paul in the Christian Bible. The contemplative nature of the song reflects perhaps an old conversion; the joyful mania of the newly found is absent here. In its place is a quiet peace that is moving, and reflective of a mature sense of what it is to be found. Quinn builds the song in both complexity and intensity through the addition of strings, synth and percussion to the gently rolling guitar. It’s a 'wow' start, a true sense of becoming in Aristotelian terms. 'O Great Spirit' is a gorgeous and moving meditation on Quinn’s prime mover, in spite of running for nearly nine minutes. Contemplative on the surface, the energy runs wide and deep in this prayer of praise and supplication.
His cover of Curtis Mayfield’s 'People Get Ready' takes elements from the later Bob Dylan version and intriguingly incorporates a new age mantra into it. The mellow take on the song is nice, and manages somehow to not sap the intensity of the original. 'We Are One' is a meditation on the interconnectedness of creation with God. The gorgeous arrangement houses an Aristotelian lyrical construction, and Quinn falls into a trademark hypnotic, repetitive cycle here. 'Bird Of Paradise' also intrigues as part madrigal and part new age composition. The hint of Baroque in the mix of piano, harpsichord and strings brings a sense of ancient and modern styles overlapping, while the song itself evokes deep sadness in a lamentation that will haunt you.
'Angels Watching Over You' is a sweet and simple folk song that’s musically solid, and Shaina Noll's 'Each Holy Child' follows a similar path. Things pick up again emotionally with 'Thanksgiving', a meditation on the power of giving thanks, and the effect it has on the one saying thank you. The song is full of spirit, and yet retains an artful perspective that holds the listener’s attention. Quinn’s 'All Over The World' is a cheerful, mildly upbeat folk/pop number that plays more like a feelgood, pop spirituality paean than an austere spiritual work. Aesthetically pleasing, the song seems initially only as deep as its melody line, in contrast with much of the rest of the album.
Asher Quinn embraces a deeply unitarian musical spirituality on O Great Spirit, avoiding specific dogmatic constructs that might limit the appeal of the album. It starts strongly, with a spiritual intensity that is undeniable. The songwriting and construction are consistently strong throughout, even if the emotional energy and intensity transmute into joy and simplicity by the time you reach the last few songs. As always, Quinn puts his own distinctive spin on a style, working from a mystical base to craft songs that are both subtle and sublime. O Great Spirit has some amazing moments.