Oh that Chad
Lawson is such a mischievous fellow! Never have two
albums had such contrasting covers. Chad's previous
solo-piano CD, the much lauded ‘Set
on a Hill’ (Piano-Heaven award-winner
from 2009) featured Chad in a Kamikaze-style
position on a busy New York street. The cover offered
little in the way of clues as to the sublime music
that was to reveal itself in that wonderful album.
So, when I caught my first sight of the beautiful
fells (looking suspiciously like an image from my
part of the world- The Lake District) gracing the
sleeve of Chad's latest CD, ‘The Piano’, I
immediately realised the little irony of how the
latest album is indeed set on a hill, but was
initially unsure as to what to expect, given Chad's
renowned sense of humour. Heavy-duty jazz, perhaps?
Any lingering doubts were, however, soon allayed the
moment the first graceful notes starting playing
from my speakers.
The first track
on this excellent album became a favourite from my
very first listen. Chad studied Classical piano all
the way through high-school, so perhaps it is no
surprise that he pays homage to various greats on
this album, beginning with Johann Sebastian Bach. ‘Preludium
in C Major’ delivers a gorgeous opening to the CD.
The clarity of the notes is as pure as the country
air, and the crystal-clear sound resonating from the
piano is testament to the top-notch recording
facilities at Joe Bongiorno's ‘Piano-Haven’ recording
studio (more details
here). The piece is incredibly beautiful and
A-Minor’ is a tribute to the great work of Chopin.
Fans of Ludovico Einaudi will adore this piece, with
its gentle opening; the piece unfurling like a pure
wildflower fluttering in the Spring breeze, as a
passing couple enjoy their romantic stroll. Around
three minutes into the piece, the tempo slows almost
to a halt- a stolen kiss perhaps, where time
momentarily stands still, before a flurry of notes
as pulses are set a-racing. And what an exquisite
ending- perfection with the ivories as far as this
reviewer is concerned.
Lonely as a Cloud’ is an obvious reference to the
great writer William Wordsworth, who described in
verse scenes just minutes away from where I type
this review. As I listen to the
uplifting, inspiring melody which ensues, I can
visualise the golden daffodils dancing in the
refreshing breeze. Note-perfect, Chad's third track
is as graceful as they come.
Weary Soul’ is a tribute to the late, great Amy
Winehouse, who died in 2011 at a tragically young
age. Melancholy, and yet achingly beautiful, I am
sure the singer would approve. Chad captures the
vocal prowess of Amy through his touching and tender
choice of notes- a complete contrast in musical
styles, but with the common bond of talent. Chad,
intentionally or otherwise, also manages to convey a
sense of waste- this stunning singer had her life
ahead of her, and perhaps her best was yet to come.
bars of the album's fifth track, ‘Dance You Pretty’,
put me in festive mode for a moment, as they
reminded me of ‘The First Noel’. However, that soon
changed as the piece got going, developing into
another melodic masterpiece. As I listen, I
visualise a young ballerina gracefully moving across
the stage, with delicate jumps, and angelic twists
Pyotr Tchaikovsky's turn in track six, with
‘Swan Lake’, but this is very much Chad's own
composition. Relaxing and unrushed- this is perfect
chill-out music. Spa owners take note! This
particular swan is in no hurry, as it effortlessly
glides along the crystal-clear water, ripples gently
resonating from its side, as Earth's greatest gift
sparkles like a thousand jewels in the Summer sun.
behind the album's seventh track, the very lovely
‘Ballade in C-Minor’. It is very classical in form
and yet still highly accessible. As with ‘Set on a
Hill’, Chad Lawson delivers the goods time after
time, with remarkable consistency throughout the
album, and this track is certainly no exception.
Yesterday’ is more New-Age in form, and fans of
David Lanz will doubtless enjoy this one. Melodic,
with flourishes of notes, Chad is in quite playful
mood here. A great piece.
Daniel’ has a lullaby-style feel to it in parts.
Soporific is the key word here- and the listener
should allow themselves to drift away into their
dreams. As Chad himself explains, "Goodnight,
Daniel was written as my wife and I were expecting
our first child. The song was written before he was
born, prior to the first sonogram. Once we found out
it was a boy and chose his name, I originally called
it Daniel's Theme, but after hearing it on the
album, it just made sense to call it Goodnight,
Daniel, since it's such a lullaby."
am sure Daniel has had sweet dreams as a result of
listening to his father's lovely composition.
closes with ‘My Romance’. Reflective, gorgeous, and
the perfect way to close out the album.
has delivered the goods once again. This is a
wonderful, relaxing CD that will appeal to anyone
who enjoys solo-piano music. Pour the wine, sit back
and relax, and enjoy the music from the modern-day
great that is Chad Lawson.