Haven earns 10/10 Perfect Rating from Bucketlist Music!! Read the review by Johnathan Robinson:
There are few instruments that make my soul hum when I hear them, one of them being the violin. Something about that bow sliding across those strings has the power to make me tear up, when played correctly. So you can imagine my excitement when I looked up Haven by Briana Di Mara and saw that she was holding a violin. I almost jumped with joy! Released on October 19th, Haven is a full album, containing 9 tracks, all composed and arranged by Briana Di Mara herself. Music has the ability to transport us places and being a history buff, I naturally gravitate towards sounds that bring me to an exotic location or a very distant past. When I’m able to truly immerse myself in a sound, I consider the album a major success. Below I discuss if Briana Di Mara was successful in moving me.
Yes, she was. No other way to put it. Briana Di Mara has crafted a “genreless” album, one that is not held back by conventions. The first track off Haven, “Home,” was clearly Celtic. The soft melody reminded me of music by the likes of Barde, a Celtic band from home town Montreal, known for their reels and jigs. I had no time to recover from the incredible track I had just heard, when the third one, “Seyyah,” begun and I was swept from the green forests and dropped right into the desert. This one had a more Middle Eastern feel to it, aided by Briana’s quick and precise playing and a slew of other musicians playing instruments like a qanun, the mandocello and an accordion, to name a few. “La Partida Tango” brought me to Spain with its flamenco-inspired sound. On this particular track, Briana Di Mara’s violin is closely followed by a flamenco guitar, giving the song more depth.
There is clearly enough variation within this album to satisfy an entire crowd. Every track presents a different story and brought forth different emotions. For example, “Reverie” was much softer than the previous tracks. It had something dark and moody about it, with the violin being more distant. This particular track had an oriental sound, yet another place this album made me visit. The recording and mastering on this album is on par with the quality of the music. Every instrument being played is beautiful and clear. Briana Di Mara clearly holds a place of honour, but no instrument is lost in the mix, giving us a full and lively sound. “Kalliope’s Lullaby,” the final track, had one more surprise for me: vocals. When I was not expecting it, Briana Di Mara surprised me once more with her soft and beautiful voice. The songs on this album are mostly instrumental and even though she does not sing for much, it was enough to give me the impression that she had a good voice.
Haven is a masterfully crafted album which is almost like a trip around the world, stuffed into one record. What is most impressive is the fact she has composed and arranged all of her songs and all the instruments. I’m impressed by sheer musical knowledge one must have to compose such an album. I highly recommend this album if you’re open to music of around the world.
Album Review by Jamie Robash of Divide and Conquer Music
As an instrument in and of itself it can have a unique sound depending on its attributes; shape, weight, tension, etc. However the musician playing the instrument has the most control over the way the instrument will sound. The musician controls the tones and the way things are allowed to reverberate or not. They also control the emitted feeling of the instrument which causes the listeners mood to move from happy to sad to awed. It is this profusion of instrumentation and lack of musical boundaries which Oakland, California based violinist Briana Di Mara brings to the forefront on her eclectic debut record Haven. Along with a cast of fourteen other musicians Di Mara weaves a beautiful tapestry of world music on Haven.
Haven opens with “Home” a flourishing piece that sets a mood and tone of music that ranges from hints of Irish pub music to gypsy jazz. It is both eloquent and haunting at the same time bringing up images of eastern European campfires and royal wedding entertainments from centuries ago as it moves seamlessly into the second song “Storyteller” wherein Di Mara’s violin acts as the storyteller as it takes the listener on a journey of high and low notes which once again blend a European folk musical tradition with a modern feel and flair.
Then she takes us on a more dramatic journey to India, exploring that vast lands musical traditions with “Seyyah,” and later on the rather magical and intriguing notes and movements of “Muse.” Later she and her band of world musicians take us back to the exciting and elegant realms of gypsy jazz with a bit of latin inspiration mixed in on the masterful “Moonrise.”
These pieces on Haven are meant to move you and do move you in a way that other genres of music simply aren’t able to. Haven’s songs cast a spell on the listener, an ancient spell from ancient times, yet the music itself is rendered timeless by Di Mara’s thoughtfully well-orchestrated arrangements. Haven is not simply a wonderful record, it’s a wonderful and lasting work of art.
Review of Haven by Steve Sheppard of One World Music
I felt in need of a pick-me-up this week and what better one would I find than the colourful spirals of musical pageantry within this wondrous new release entitled Haven, the debut album from Briana Di Mara.
From the very first track we are charmed by its light and happy narrative, it is called Home and retains the warmth of this most pleasing of places of the heart. The violin dances with the Kalimba as the sun streams down through canopy of trees, creating a fairy like dance for us all to enjoy, a superb piece to start with indeed.
The energy I needed was one to lift me from this autumnal dullness and within the piece Storyteller I had a composition that manifested an intriguing tale indeed, one that reminded me of the village music we have here in Cyprus, and contains a real folk styled multi instrumentational ethic, where the violin was supreme and backed up by such a stylish array of fine musicianship.
Seyyah is Turkish for Traveller and one could easily imagine this music being the soundtrack for the Seyyah as he makes his way via the caravansary fromBodrum to Antalya. Wonderful violin from Briana Di Mara can be found here; the tabla is sumptuous at creating such a redolent atmosphere. This is rightly the longest offering on the album at well over seven and a half minutes long, and I defy you to keep your feet still whilst listening to it.
Grace is the next piece on the album, this has an altogether different feel to its construction; there is a slight melancholy feel here, one with a distinct reflective quality. Di Mara’s violin sings here, perhaps for one who has gone from her life, but what a beautiful way to remember, by creating a musical opus of many memories.
La Partida Tango is now in front of us, so be ready to dance! This Waltz flows with such an international rhythm it is a delight to move to. Once more DiMara’s violin is centre stage, but it works with an almost energetic synchronicity when partnered with the percussion and the magical and fluent guitar of Gabriel Navia.
This is a world music album of utter quality and extremely easy to listen to, allow the tones of this next piece entitled Reverie to wash over you, in what is just over six minutes of sublime violin and the crafted brilliance of percussive genius Aharon Wheels Bolsta, then add into that mix a little hint of bass from the talented Miles Jay, and you have a really smooth winner of an arrangement.
I am pleased that through the magical tones of this album my Muse is working hard for me again. On the track, Muse, you will find a vibrant composition which contains a real eastern flavour to its construction; the santur creates this sultry backdrop of sound, which I believe is a hammered dulcimer from the Persian region. The music is very familiar to me as we have many international folk shows here in Paphos.
Our penultimate offering is called Moonrise, this one that unleashes Tobias Roberson and utilises his multi percussive talents. Moonrise is a song of happiness, dance and singing; it combines the ultra-skills of the violin of Di Mara with the sublime crafted style of Diana Strong on accordion and the rhythmic flow of Gabriel Navia on guitar in an arrangement that almost explodes on the musical palette with a burst of energetic flavours that are oh so very delightful, yes, this is the perfect track to dance to, Bravo!
After that extremely exciting narrative, we now end the album with a calmer offering, in fact let’s settle down now and listen to Kalliope's Lullaby. The vocals come courtesy of Kalliope Landgraf and work in an almost symbiotic partnership with the violin of Briana Di Mara to bring us the perfect ending piece off the release.
Haven by Briana Di Mara is a really enjoyable album; it filled me with a lightness of heart and added an energy and vibrancy to my day. Haven is a superb offering of nine tracks that are perfectly placed and lovingly created. I must honestly say that if given a chance, this album could be appreciated by a very large audience; it has all the hall marks of being a global music great in my view, and one that I think you would enjoy too.