To truly appreciate an artist’s latest work and immerse enough to write intelligently about it, I always feel compelled to learn about their professional and personal backgrounds and, if possible, ask what inspired them. Considering all of its seductive rhythms, melodic charms, ethereal vocal graces, exquisite ambiences and invitations to meditate and connect with Spirit (our own and the Universe’s), I certainly could have embraced Juliet Lyons’ exquisitely produced, dynamically textured recording The Light Within: Songs for Yoga, Healing & Inner Peace without knowing anything about the singer, songwriter and composer’s life.
Yet it was exhilarating to realize all the amazing history she brings to this multi-faceted 10 track collection, which deservedly debuted at #3 on the Billboard New Age chart. Her resume as a TV composer includes over 100 shows on practically every network and prominent cable channel. She’s also been nominated nine times for Hollywood Music in Media Awards, and twice for an Independent Spirit Award. Perhaps even more significantly considering the way The Light Within reflects a truly global and universal consciousness, she lived in Europe as a young child, grew up in New Mexico, and has visited 50 countries. It’s interesting that Juliet brings that whirlwind of life experiences to a recording driven by the desire to encourage, moment by moment and song by song, transcendence from the frenzy of daily life. Yet it’s also hard to imagine she could create such a subtly empowering, soul transformative work without those influences.
Juliet planted the inspirational seeds for The Light Within a little over 10 years ago with her elegant, piano and ambience meditation song “Peace Within” on her debut new age vocal album My Siren Song. As she writes in her liner notes, “I was deeply moved when I was told it was a musical balm for agitated minds, broken hearts and bodies, and that it has given significance to time in shavasana.” Realizing how the song had resonated, she set her intention of recording a full album of similarly themed and sounding tracks that emanated simple yet powerful messages of peace and love.
Performing (or more appropriately, channeling from divine sources) dream-like vocals (some exotic chanting, some English) on all songs and adding her talents on Native Flute (on the gently rhythmic, soulfully wistful and colorfully ambient “Dawning Equillibrium”) and piano (the angelic, inspirational closing piece “Shine”), Juliet accomplishes her aims with perfectly incorporated musical elements by a host of incredible musical friends. Her husband Rupesh Menon adds a deep, thoughtful male counterpoint to her dreamy chant on the album’s infectious, high spirited mantra-like opener “Samastah” and subtle, whispery vocal elements to the floating, softly caressing sonic soul wash of “Eternal Now.”
Cellist Judy Kang adds haunting, classically tinged poignancy to “Stillness” and the hypnotic, intricately textured and subtly percussive “The Light Within.” On “Eternal Now” – which is how those who have had the near-death experience describe time in the spirit realm - Ron Korb’s lush flute melody combines with soft spoken acoustic guitars and Juliet’s pin-drop eloquent vocals to create a sonic world that sparks our imagination of what eternity must be like. Another key contributor is celebrated Indian new age artist Ricky Kej, who plays all the keyboards and does the programming on “Lokah Samastah.” Also of note is the programming and subtle electric guitar energies of CK Barlow on two songs that perfectly capture Juliet’s musical mission to “Calm” and “Heal You.”
While those details can certainly help you understand the intents and production values on a track by track basis, The Light Within, by design, is best experienced as a free-flowing musical experience from start to finish. Make it the soundtrack to your next yoga or meditation session and open up to the soul immersion and shift in consciousness coming your way.