With her elegant and ethereal, intricately textured 2019 album The Light Within: Songs for Yoga, Healing & Inner Peace, composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Juliet Lyons made her transformation from indie pop singer/songwriter who dabbled in new age to full-fledged, award winning, Top 5 Billboard charting genre artist.
It’s exciting and inspiring to hear her uniquely rhythmic pop sensibilities play a subtle, seductive role on Nova: An Acoustic Journey, a remarkable six-track EP of lushly arranged, soft-spoken yet soulfully immersive duets featuring Juliet’s elegant, free-flowing piano grandeur in melodic and harmonic conversation with acoustic guitarist John McLean Allan.
Because of their well-established musical reputations, much ado will be made of Allan’s remarkable switch from his legendary bagpiping in hit films and with orchestras and major artists, and Lyon’s focus on her sweet melodic piano elegance and caressing synth ambience (and occasional flute and percussion) instead of those ethereal vocals at the heart of her last project.
The story instead should be how two musical travelers on once-divergent roads cast their trademark sounds aside and found common purpose in beautiful expressions, from the perfectly titled lead single “Luminous Radiance” and the haunting, reflective “Chaco” to the hypnotically rhythmic and slightly exotic, pop/folk tinged “Stones and Circles,” the ambient, lilting “Northern Lights” and the plucky, optimistic closer “Emergence,” which leaves us with hope of a better day. Fans of Juliet’s prior vocal works will perhaps most appreciate “Vedana,” which weaves her soaring wordless voicings into the dynamic swelling blend of piano, guitar and synth atmospheres.