Drive Time Rx by Steven Halpern
Steven Halpern/Inner Peace Music (2009) 69:12 minutes
Review by Kate Russell
Of all the types of albums one can review, ‘subconscious messaging’ types have to be the hardest. It seems that so much depends on subjective factors, such as personal suggestibility, or the severity of the problem one seeks help for at the time. Personally, the opportunity to review Steven Halpern’s ‘Drive Time Rx’ album was one I looked forward to with great excitement. As I see it, there are two sorts of drivers; natural drivers, and those – like me – who view driving a vehicle as a necessary evil, but akin to scraping fingers down a chalkboard so far as stress levels go. With my personal angst about driving in mind, I read the album’s blurb that it could “… decrease your stress and give you greater control over your physical and emotional state – regardless of traffic conditions or the inconsiderate actions of other drivers” with some interest. Quite some claim to make, though how exciting if it really could be true!
The album is just over 69 minutes of relaxing compositions, within which are found subliminal messages like, “I am relaxed and alert at all times” and “I am in control of my emotional response to inconsiderate actions of other drivers”. The album cover states that the first seven songs are rhythmic and up-tempo, and the last seven songs are more relaxing: to say the last seven songs are relaxing is an understatement – in fact, I felt a little uncomfortable listening to what was the equivalent of an auditory narcotic whilst driving; if you are in any way tired, the last seven tracks will likely exacerbate the feeling!
Halpern’s ability as a composer, however, comes across clearly in this album. Each track transitions smoothly to the next and the first seven tracks particularly are delightfully varied, and feel good to listen to. However, this is not simply a music album, but a relaxation album that seeks to diminish road rage and increase control of one’s emotions behind the wheel. So the question is – does it work?
For the first couple of listens through the CD, I did manage to stop myself mid driving tirade, reminding myself that I needed to try to relax to absorb the positive messages on the CD. However, the truest test came when on a routine drive to the supermarket, via roadworks, a major traffic jam and rather uncomfortable heat. Under these conditions, I usually find myself stressed within minutes of setting off. I wondered if Halpern’s positive visualisation could help me this time – alas, this was not to be the case. All it took was one black Dodge Ram to cut in front of me in a way I didn’t like five minutes into the trip, to start off a new under-the-breath diatribe at other road users that lasted all the rest of the way to the supermarket. By that time, I guess I figured, “hung for a sheep as well as a lamb”, because the journey home was filled with foul humour to match or even rival the original journey out; all this, despite the soothing sounds of Halpern’s compositions in the background.
For those whose road rage is deeply ingrained, I don’t think I could recommend this CD as a stand-alone aid for road stress. Maybe taken in conjunction with an anger management course or for casual occurrences of road stress that happen from time to time, when one is overtired, or has a long journey ahead. Still, as a music album, it’s refreshing to listen to and would make a great accompaniment on the road. If you enjoy the music on this CD, Halpern also has a wide range of other CDs available for relaxation, meditation, massage, learning, healing and yoga, which can be found at his website: www.innerpeacemusic.com.
Kate Russell is a singer/songwriter and busker from Vancouver, up until recently performing under the stage name Jadis Gloom (www.myspace.com/jadisgloom). Currently she is taking some time out from her solo music projects to write, listen to other styles of music and gain inspiration from other artists and their own creative journeys. Believing that to look into someone’s art is also to look inside their soul, she enjoys the intimate opportunities for understanding others in new ways that being a music critic provides.