A CD found its way to my desk a few months ago, via old fashioned means - snail mail. I took one listen and instantly knew I had to find out more about the unique and extra special young creative talent showcased on the disc. His name is Gareth Laffely, a fifteen year old multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter, and producer, from Gallatin, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville. He is not only gaining recognition for his unique use of the Native American flute and his songwriting, but through his genuine ability to make a difference in the lives of others with his music and by challenging teens everywhere to get involved with a cause and help make their community a better place.
Gareth released his first full-length CD entitled, The Journey in July 2013. He enlisted two-time GRAMMY Award nominated hit songwriter and Dove Award winning producer Robert White Johnson (Celine Dion, Larnelle Harris, the Beach Boys, Edyta, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cheap Trick, .38 Special), top Nashville session musicians Dave Cleveland (Guitar), Mike Noble (Guitar), Jason Webb (Piano), Jeff Roach (Piano), Craig Nelson (Bass), Scott Williamson (Drums), Steve Brewster (Drums), Thornton Cline (cello), Susan Oliver (Background Vocals), and GRAMMY Award winner Gary Dales (engineer) to assist on his project.
This eleven song debut release is as interesting as it is refreshing; a very impressive and solid first outing. Mention flute music in any combination with rock or pop and you naturally think of Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. And, it's apparent Gareth's musical vision combines the spiritual and healing influences of the Native American flute with the edge of Ian Anderson. Gareth has an exceptional command of the Native American Flute as an instrument, as heard on the CD's standout tracks Spirit Horse, Flight of The Thunderbird, Steal The Moon, and The Journey. Even on the CD's two big time pop rock numbers, Under A Big Sky and This Time, Gareth's Native American flute is used sparingly; as if to purposely taunt and tease the listener into wanting more...he definitely succeeded!
One look at The Journey CD cover, which depicts Gareth holding a Native American flute while sitting in front of a painted landscape of a lush valley, mountainous terrain, and a bright full moon, provides expectations of musical material in the New Age or American Roots music genres. You find yourself contemplating what the instrumentation might be; flute only, one or multiple-instruments, and with or without vocals. One can only guess what is about to happen when the play button is pushed. Push play and all of a sudden your ears instantly perk up with a pounding rock kick drum and crunch guitar, followed by the Native American flute, with the addition of lead vocals and backing vocals. The first track, Under A Big Sky grabs you, captures your imagination and as Gareth states, "The song Under A Big Sky was written to say that dreams have no limits. It is more than a love story, but a statement that says anything is possible, you just have to dare to dream." This kid Gareth is dreaming big and if the rest of his CD sounds anywhere near Under A Big Sky his dreams just might come true!
Spirit Horse, far and away one of the strongest tracks on the CD, Gareth explains, "Spirit Horse is a mixture of traditional Native American Flute, classic rock, and modern pop music. There is an old legend about a spirit horse that would come to carry the souls of Native Americans into the next world. The title, like the song, displays transitions between the old and the new."
Gareth has been touching lives and moving souls by tugging at heartstrings of many all over the world. In his short lifetime, he has shown a unique, rare, and undeniable innate ability to make others happy through his music and he makes himself available to many charitable organizations. He says, "One of the biggest problems of the modern world is bullying. Whether dealing with a physical bully, a bad relationship, or even an addiction, the song This Time says that you can rise above. It is a song of empowerment."
Gareth further provides explanations to the meanings of his songs. "Steal The Moon, is a memorable and haunting song that is a more contemporary approach to the Native American flute. When I began recording my debut CD, The Journey, I received a gift of a beautiful flute from flute maker Dana Ross expressing his support for my talent. Dana is an incredible flute maker and he made the flute that I use in Steal The Moon. When Dana’s mother Ruth passed away, I knew that I wanted to dedicate the song to her. The song Boomerang is a fun song about that person that you just can’t get out of your mind no matter how hard you try. Love Is Closing In is a driving song that says you simply can’t outrun love. It can sneak up on you when you least expect it. Flight Of The Thunderbird was written after a visit to the Taos Pueblos of New Mexico. The song is a tribute to the Pueblos, and it is based on the ancient Native American legend of the Thunderbird. Lightning flashed from the eyes of the bird, and its feathers were the storm clouds that covered the ancient sky. Every beat of the bird’s wings brought thunder and rain. The song reflects the Thunderbird’s power and mystery. The song Crushed, expresses the fact that love isn't always easy; sometimes having a crush on someone can really crush you. The Chase is a thrill ride of power and intensity that is a challenge to play. Picture two old cars chasing each other down a dusty road. Blood pounding through the drivers’ veins while they are caught up in the thrill of the chase. The song The Journey was written in honor of all those who suffered and died on the Trail of Tears. This CD would not be complete without the song Amazing Grace. The arrangement represents two flute players across a great canyon."
No matter what track you find yourself listening to, you will always be whisked away on an incredible journey...'The Journey'.
Album: The Journey
Release Date: July 17, 2013