Stephan Earl -- Origins

One-man-band Stephan Earl does a nice job here of merging new age with some pretty decent smooth jazz touches on his debut release, Origins. With mellow and soothing tracks that are not at all boring, Earl tickles the ivories and offers us a healthy showing of his saxophone skills, as well.

I may not have been taken by the opening track, which is melodic but a tad lacking in terms of any kind of dazzle, but the artist settles in with more definition as the album progresses.

The title track has smooth jazz written all over it as its mid-tempo drive and decent sax take center stage here. The track, �In My Time,� starts off as a really chilled-out piece then suddenly erupts in searing rock riffs. Its lightness-turned-heaviness has a strange beckoning to it. Nice, and a bit unexpected. If you�re an Electronic Wind Instrument fan, you�ll perhaps really get into �Day Dreamin�,� which combines piano with thick traces of the EWI. It has an interesting way of nestling in on the rather appealing melody. Very new age.

A lazy and smoky �Till It Be Morrow� follows with a hint of straight-ahead jazz and blues sprinkled in with that new age flavor. I wasn�t particularly crazy about the melody, but the sax work and the fact that Earl included such a piece are noteworthy, considering the theme that was set early on this album. That bluesy, smoky feel continues with the next track, �Stars in Your Eyes,� but there�s a wee bit more smooth jazz sax woven in here. The mellow and melodic �Rhapsody� wraps up this project.

Earl doesn�t pump it up or attempt to get the dance muscles moving here with this album, but it�s an effective, mellow effort, designed for the reflective and introspective moments in your life.