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North Maple Road by Kurt Reiman
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 4/18/2019
A debut album that is really going places
North Maple Road the debut album from Kurt Reiman is one of those rare albums that I knew I was going to fall head over heels in love with the moment I heard the first note played, there is so much within this release that is attractive and exciting to enjoy.
From the very first opener entitled Sunrise over Narragansett Bay, a light hearted reverie perhaps, but one composed so brilliantly that we can literally be right there with the artist and feel his thoughts.
We can enjoy a moment of musical bliss with the longest track off the album at just short of seven minutes as we listen to the opus of Together and Alone, a composition that seems and feels so tender and heart felt.
Kurt Reiman is one of those pianists that have that magic touch, and that crafted genius can be felt on one of the most addictive solo piano pieces I have heard thus far this year, of course I am referring to the title track North Maple Road, personally speaking I cannot stop playing this composition, it is sun kissed and cheer filled and that can’t be a bad thing can it?
This twelve piece album has so many beautiful arrangements, some of them touch the heart like the emotive I Need to Say This, others give us food for thought like the quite breath taking Stars and Constellations, a piece that creates so much texture, colour and space as it plays, and to finish with a song like You’ll Always Be Here with Me, a composition of comfort and reassurance; a beautiful way to leave a quite delightful album.
North Maple Road the debut album from Kurt Reiman does truly have that energy about it of a release that is really going to go places; Reiman is a composer of truth and a musical expressionist of sublime quality, and if you’re a fan of solo piano and are thinking about purchasing this collection of fine tunes, I say don’t even hesitate, you can be rest assured that your musical soul will thank you for it.
Rating: Excellent
In the Soft Light of Grace by David Nevue
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 4/17/2019
Graceful and serene
David Nevue has been on my musical radar for some nine years now and ever since then, I have been entranced by the beauty of the performances he gives. Nevue is a naturally talented painter of tones and melodies, and here on this new release called In The Soft Light of Grace, that statement is once more emphasised.
This new voyage of solo piano starts with a real anthem of a composition entitled Walking In Trust. The arrangement on its own is superb, the melody is film score standard, and if you ever wanted to start an album off with a piece that will hook the listener in, then this my friends is the one.
Nevue follows that masterpiece up with the ultimate tapestry of delight, the title track and of course entitled In The Soft Light of Grace. The performance here is sublime; it has a gentle overall aspect, one that perhaps is bathed in the early morning mist of a late summer’s day. However there is a deeper resonance to this offering that creates a really moving musical narrative, as if memory is competing with the moment we are currently within.
The perfectly balanced opus Equilibrium is next; there is a certain lightness of touch here employed by the master pianist that is so appealing. This composition seems to flow with the ease of a new born mountain stream and delicately touches each and every musical nuance along the way. This has to be in the top 10 most beautiful tracks I have heard from the Nevue, but then again there are so many, and at well over six and a half minutes this is the longest track off the album too.
As we move towards track four we find something truly special called, In the Quiet Alone. I am a big fan of ambient music, it allows me the time to relax and breathe, and this is exactly what this delightful offering from the artist does for me right here, right now. A slow and deliberate energy abounds here, one that seems to float in-between the tick and tock of the clock, this is ambience personified by Nevue.
The fluency of this next piece is so very charming and called Everpresent. The repeating motif is almost meditative and the overall energy gives forth a feeling, a sense of oneness of spirit. A smoothly played arrangement, with a little elevation of intent can be found here in this simply sublime moment of musical bliss.
We now come across an offering called The Wind Blows Where It Wishes; this is a really moving composition at times, one that for me depicts a certain remorseful content built within the mix of the arrangement. However, as is usual with a Nevue piece, it is perfectly balanced with the essence of positivity, and as the offering continues perhaps it is a reminder to us all that our lives are based on freewill, and like the wind, where ever we allow ourselves to be blown we will.
The gentle and emotive refrains of the next piece wash over me now; it’s called Out of Pain, Comes Beauty. I once spent 6 months of my life disabled by a freak accident and could not walk for most of that time, and in terrible pain, but I did overcome this tragedy and returned a year later to full health. For me this could be another anthem, I could hear this composition being played in my moment of success, as I stood upon a vast hillside and looked down at the world below, and how true is the title, out of pain, comes beauty, and out of determination comes victory.
The depths are about to be plunged into as we listen to this next offering called Where the Water Flows. Nevue is a master of texture and a creator of visual music of great quality and on this piece that is so evident. A powerful composition can be found here, one that twists and turns like a river in full flow. The pauses and space created also by the artist, adds a wonderful extra dimension for us all to get totally lost within, a truly clever offering indeed.
The nocturnal bliss of At Last Night is delightful to listen to, this piece reminds me of when you wake up from a dream in the early hours of the night, a little startled, then as your mind begins to clear, you start to relax again, your body once more falls back into the arms of peaceful rest. This composition is almost like when you give out a deep breath, sigh, shut your eyes and peacefully sleep once more, knowing that all is as it should be, an emphatic performance indeed.
The shortest piece off the album at just less than three minutes is a delicate composition called Heaven Came Down. However that delicacy is balanced perfectly with some of the finest flowing piano I have heard from the artist in years, it is as if he has touched a moment of divine inspiration and just gone for it.
The warmth of this next piece is truly tangible, the title is Luminous and another fine example of the ambient qualities that David Nevue can employ within his music, seemingly at will. There is a real incandescent quality to this track that is so appealing and one that is performed with so much feeling and heart as well.
The penultimate arrangement is a light and happy composition entitled Unshakeable. Nevue has once more created a melody that is remarkable, one that will stay with the listener forever. It is bathed in the energies of strength and purpose, an arrangement built of strong foundations and of great confidence.
The last threshold of the album we must cross now stands before us, called A Dance For Heaven. Nevue has created the perfect parting gift for us all and leaves us with a cheer filled opus that is filled with positivity and a sense of optimism. The performance is here is like dancing under a star filled sky in August, one that is simply breath taking with each and every note played.
In The Soft Light of Grace in my view is Nevue’s best work to date, even surpassing his last release Winding Down, which I wouldn’t have thought possible. This is an album that the vast realms of the solo piano genre will want to rush out and buy. Contained within are 13 superbly performed and produced compositions and each one of them cooked to perfection by a true musical chef of great standing, solo piano doesn’t come any better than this.
Rating: Excellent
Adrift in Wonder by Robert Linton
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 4/15/2019
A veritable musical sanctuary
There is always something to admire about a new Robert Linton release, he plays the way I only wish I could, his style is fluent and extremely artistic and with every note and chord played, he pulls so much emotion from the guitar.
Linton is back with a new album called Adrift in Wonder and it is this musical journey we must now joyfully take, we start with the moving opus called Gliding the Current. Linton’s choice of titles for this piece is spot on, we are literally on a boat, drifting down a stream, is life but a dream? Who would know and more to the point care, whilst listening to this most wonderful of compositions.
Robert follows that up with the sublime Weaving Through the Waves; this is one of those tracks that will completely melt you with its utter beauty, trust me, as one who lives close to the coastline this is simply perfect in every way. The fluency of Linton as a guitarist must always be highlighted, he may physically perform with his hands, but the music truly comes from the heart.
As we reach track three we find a piece of music that is stunning in its graphic nature and emotive qualities, that is the sublime essence of the arrangement called Traces of Reflection, it also happens to contain some of the most marvellous work on Cello by the master of that instrument in Eugene Friesen. The nature of this piece is simply timeless; it is like watching the sun filter in through the curtains in the early autumn light.
Linton’s relentless drive into a wonderland of tranquillity continues with another slice of magic, can this experience even get any better? Well of course it can, and this simply emotional arrangement is further enhanced by a stunning performance on violin by Sara Milonovich. Gentle Descent is so soft and calming; one may well float down a mountain instead of making a descent. Linton’s sweet and good natured performance on this one contains such a colourful musical narrative.
So we now cross over the half way marker of the album and as we do so we reach a point of sublime natural beauty, this masterful musical narrative is entitled Sifting Through Daydreams and reminds me a lot of Linton’s work on his, Throughout the Autumn Light release, but in a more major key styled way. The alto flute of Premik Russell Tubbs here creates such a tranquil musical moment when partnered with the guitar of Linton, it is really hard to break free from its beauty, and at just under nine minutes long this is the longest track to my knowledge that Robert Linton has ever recorded, but I wouldn’t have minded if it had been twenty minutes long, I was lost in its realms of magic already.
Casting in the After Glow has a richness of musical colour and a great depth to its arrangement that really needs to be appreciated. There is also an almost classical energy about this offering that makes it even more attractive too; this is probably enhanced by the addition of Friesen on Cello and Jill Haley on English horn. The depth here is truly mesmeric in its qualities, and seems to create a sense of warmth to its creation as it plays out, a truly fascinating and intricate offering indeed.
As we move deeper into the weave of the release we come across a fascinating piece called Murmur of Chimes, there is a distinct feeling of solitude here, one that is created by a masterful performance brought into this reality by Linton on guitar. Just to sit and listen to this gentle but purposeful performance is breath taking and quite restful, this is certainly one of those tracks to have on whilst sitting and watching the sun set on the horizon, on a warm night in late August.
Robert Linton’s overall portrait of purpose is now unveiled before us, of course I am referring to the title track Adrift in Wonder. I adore this moment on an album and here the artist does us proud and produces one of his signature musical dishes with the consummate ease of a true professional artiste. Here is a piece that will stop you dead in your tracks and demand you listen to each and every nuance contained within, Friesen’s Cello at this point has most certainly formed a symbiotic partnership with the guitar of Linton.
The last footfalls home can be taken via the natural beauty of the composition Hovering in the Sun Rays, this is so very beautiful and the picturesque qualities of this arrangement are simply outstanding. Linton’s gentle musical narration has such a tranquil tempo it is simply the best offering to listen to if you desire relaxation, without doubt the perfect composition to leave the album with.
Adrift in Wonder is that moment I have waited for since 2016 and Linton’s last release Beyond the Clearing. He is a true master of his art and an inspiration to me as a part-time guitarist, and once more he has brought into our world an album of pure peace and serenity. Linton’s honest and heart felt compositions will manifest for each and every purchaser of this album, a veritable musical sanctuary they will never want to leave, and thus is an album that hand on heart, makes it very easy for me to thoroughly recommend.
Rating: Excellent
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