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Church of Sky

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Album Review

Ancient-Future Records has described Church of Sky as a contemporary folk/new age album. Well, the contemporary folk part is correct (contemporary folk-pop if you want to be really specific), but this acoustic-oriented effort is not a new age vocal release — certainly not in the way that Enya's output falls into the new age vocal category. Stylistically, the wife/husband team known as Shantala has a lot more in common with Joan Baez, Sandy Denny, Janis Ian, Eliza Gilkyson, and even, to a degree, early Heart (not the Wilson sisters' hard rock recordings — Church of Sky is far from hard rock — but some of their early folk-minded ballads such as "Dream of the Archer," "How Deep It Goes," and "Dreamboat Annie"). So why would Ancient-Future use the term new age in connection with this CD when it isn't really new age? Because using the term new age can be an effective marketing tool — at least in new age circles — and also, because Church of Sky has a calm, tranquil, peaceful outlook. Much of that peacefulness and tranquillity comes from Shantala's Heather Wertheimer, who handles all of the lead vocals, plays acoustic guitar, and does most of the songwriting; husband Benjy Wertheimer (Shantala's other half) assists with the writing and plays various instruments. Heather is not a forceful or aggressive sort of vocalist — far from it, in fact. She favors a light, unassuming, sweetly girlish approach that works well on pastoral offerings like "Between the Lines" and "Etched in Stone." Heather's performances aren't exceptional or outstanding, but they're charming and pleasantly likable — and while Church of Sky isn't a five-star masterpiece, it's a decent, noteworthy effort that is worth hearing if one likes his/her folk-pop on the gentle side.


Genre: World

Years Active:

Based in Portland, OR, Shantala is a husband-and-wife team consisting of Heather and Benjy Wertheimer. Their primary focus as a duo is acoustic-oriented folk-pop, and Heather's influences as a vocalist (either direct or indirect) have included Janis Ian, Joan Baez, Sandy Denny, Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell (among others). But Shantala has also attracted some attention in the new age market, which no doubt has something to do with the fact that their folk-pop tends to be pastoral, gentle, relaxed,...
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Church of Sky, Shantala
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