I don’t normally review albums that are either re-releases or revisionist takes on prior work, but having spent a goodly portion off my young adult life listening to Windham Hill artists, I could not resist digging into Safe In Your Arms from Scott Cossu. On this release, Cossu revisits and revises some older tracks and brings in new work as well. Listening to it reminds me of how much I have enjoyed this style of music over the years, but also points up to what degree my tastes have changed. While there’s no question that there is much beautiful, incredibly well-made and soulful pieces here, in places it has too much old-school New Age sweetness to it for me. Still, when I heard the heart-tugging strains of “Purple Mountain” again it brought me back to when I first heard Cossu and that clean, open Windham sound. It’s years later and though it sounds like he’s added a bit more trilling flourish on the piano, the song still creates in me a direct, real emotional response. “Little Sunshine Girl” is a lyrical, dancing piece where Cossu, guitarist Van Manakas and flutist Ann Lindquist take turns spinning out lines. Mid-track, there’s a great call-and-response where you can practically hear them smile as they bounce back and forth. “Sweet Pea Lullaby” is like a warm musical hug. The phrasing sounds very Windham Hill (I am not sure which tracks are new and which are revisited). Much of the focus is on Manakas’ guitar, riffing out curlicue melodic lines and flashes of harmonics like exclamation points. And while I know this is not Manakas’ album, it’s his lush work that draws me into “Starlit Walk.” Cossu seems content to play the accompanist here, and once again Lindquist seasons the sound with judicious applications of flute.
Safe In Your Arms is one of those albums I’ll keep handy for quiet gatherings or as an end-of-day salve. I find myself more readily engaged in it when my mood is just thus and so. Often, as I’ve had it looping in my office, I’ve entered the room to the caress of a perfectly made phrase and the album’s overarching warmth. Slipped into a mix, it can offer the emotional quotient I enjoy, without offering me too much sugar at once. For straight-up New Age and acoustic music fans, this will surely be a valued addition, and an excellent way to take a somewhat backward glance with Cossu while readying for a fresh journey ahead.
Available from Heart Dance Records.