The Forests and Shores of Acadia is part of a continuing series of albums created by Jill Haley as an “artist in residence” in a variety of US National Parks. Best-known for her evocative oboe and English horn music, Jill has been adding more and more piano to her recordings, and she also adds some synth on this album, too. Something of a family project, Jill’s husband, David Cullen, plays guitar and bass, and son, Graham Cullen, plays cello. Timothy Wenzel provided some synth sounds and Corin Nelsen did the recording, mixing, mastering and production.

Acadia National Park is just outside of Bar Harbor, Maine, and its beauty is more subtle than some of the more spectacular parks such as Glacier and Mesa Verde. This is reflected in the music, which is mostly relaxed and easy-going as well as very beautiful. I have never been to Acadia National Park, so I went to the website and viewed lots of photos as I was listening to Jill’s music, and was amazed at how perfectly the music described what I was looking at. Rather than simply interpreting the area with her music, it’s almost like Jill was channeling the park itself – a fascinating listening and visual experience that I highly recommend!

The Forests and Shores of Acadia begins with “Fog on Blueberry Hill,” a wonderful piece for piano, guitar, cello and English horn. Velvety-smooth with the graceful drifting quality of fog, it’s a compelling start! “Incoming Tide” is a duet for piano and English horn with occasional synth washes of color. This one also has a very easy-going tempo and expresses the feeling of a calm ebb and flow of the surf. “Sundrenched Waves” beautifully emulates the movement of a peaceful ocean with dancing sunbeams on its surface. Piano, oboe and synth washes paint a lovely picture that makes me want to see this for myself! “Bursts of Color” is a playful duet for guitar and English horn that makes me think of spring breezes and blooming wildflowers. “Buoys” really sparkles with piano, guitar and oboe, with an easy, lazy pace that is almost hypnotic. “Treading Softly” is the only piano solo on the album, but what a beauty it is! The gently rolling rhythm expresses movement that is slow and purposeful, but also very relaxed.”Witch Hole Pond” features the whole ensemble and has a somewhat mysterious, melancholy feeling. “In the Maine Woods” for piano, English horn and synth seems to express wonder at the tranquility and beauty of the surroundings – I really love this one! The album closes with “Compass Harbor,” a colorful piano and cello duet with synth washes. The quickly flowing piano beautifully emulates the movement of water while the smooth and evocative cello seems to reflect on the peaceful surroundings – an exceptional ending to an incredible album!

If you have been following Jill Haley’s National Park series of albums, The Forests and Shores of Acadia is a wonderful addition to your collection.