Belgian musician Philippe Laloux who records under the moniker of T-Bo (named after his late son Thibaut) has at last returned with the long awaited follow up to his 2007 album We Stay Together. After the tragic death of his son, who was killed by a drunk driver, Philippe decided that the perfect way to remain connected with him would be to record an ongoing series of albums that would continue to honor his memory. Without giving too much away, when all the albums in this ambitious project are completed the titles, when put together will make up one long sentence. So for now we have We Stay Together, Connected, with Connected being the title of album number two.
Assembled with much of the same cast of musicians that were featured on We Stay Together, Laloux hasn't simply created a sequel to WST with Connected, but rather a natural, flowing extension of that magical first record. All instrumental in nature once again this brilliantly executed collection of music comes together effortlessly as one extended suite of music, instead of fourteen separate tracks. Much like on the WST, the ethereal flute playing of Pierre Gillet is once again featured prominently on the absolutely gorgeous "Reach Out And Be Connected" and "A State Of Mind". Likewise another returning member, guitarist David Epis is on hand to provide some tasteful embellishments when needed, even contributing some lute work as well.
There is such an amazing amount of depth to be found within the arrangements and the performances on each and every one of these tracks. Every musician featured on Connected has totally bought into Laloux's vision and they are there to serve the song first and foremost. It really can't get any better than "Real Moments", a song that features an absolutely soul stirring melody performed by pianist Stéphane Stas, coupled with superb performances from Gillet and Epis once again. On "The Messenger" we are treated to some exquisite violin playing from Fasli Kamberi that is wrapped around another of David Epis' articulate solos. Guest musicians Ingrid Procurer (harp) and Adrian Legrand (cello) add their colorful touches to "Just For You", another dreamy composition that absolutely shines.
If I leave out any one of these fourteen tracks it's not to lessen their importance because each song definitely feels like it's an integral part of the whole experience that is Connected. The album winds down with a couple of majestic pieces of music, "Life Is Not In Vain" and "Nothing Is Finished, Everything Goes On", before closing with an adaptation of a traditional Indian spiritual song "Follow The Spirit", which features the vocals of Jerry Dunson who is originally from the Kiowa and Ponca Indian tribes of Oklahoma.
As I mentioned at the top of this review Connected definitely feels like a natural extension of the first album We Stay Together. The natural grace and beauty flowing through this record makes for a truly captivating listening experience from beginning to end. Music this enriching doesn't come along all that often, so do yourself and Philippe a favor and pick up a copy of Connected. Trust me you will not be disappointed.