Piano-Heaven Award Winner:

The Piano

Chad Lawson

 2011

 

www.chadlawson.com

 

 

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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 highly melodic.

‘Nocturne in 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.

‘I wandered 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.

‘Rest Now 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.

The opening 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 and turns.

It's 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.

Chopin is the inspiration 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.

‘As Only 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.

‘Goodnight 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.I am sure Daniel has had sweet dreams as a result of listening to his father's lovely composition.

The album closes with ‘My Romance’. Reflective, gorgeous, and the perfect way to close out the album.

Chad Lawson 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.   

S.C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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