Piano-Heaven Award Winner:

New Life

Paul Cardall

Shadow Mountain Records






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Rarely will you find such a personal, heart-felt CD as Paul Cardall's stunning album 'New Life'. And you would be hard-pressed to find one as good as it.


It is fair to say that Paul has had a number of challenges he has needed to overcome in his life, not least the need for a complicated heart transplant a few years ago. As Angela Yemtan MD (Director of the Adult Congenital Heart Program) states, "Paul Cardall had end-stage heart failure. We talked about options. There were no easy options. He could choose to live or choose to die. The latter would be easier. He chose life, not passively, but vigorously, with the kind of energy that left me asking what I had been doing with my own life." In this album, Paul takes the opportunity to express his gratitude for his 'new life' through the wonderful music he creates.


From the opening notes of Steven Sharp Nelson's stirring cello in 'The Traveller', it is clear that this is a very special album indeed. The track, written by Paul, is based on a composition by his deceased brother Brian, who had originally written the melody about their paternal grandfather- a man who left home and never came back. Paul writes: "I'm certain my deceased brother has gone looking for him." This is one mournful and very powerful piece, made even more so by viewing the accompanying video Paul made on You Tube featuring the poetic words of Rudyard Kipling's 'My Boy Jack' (1915): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX3DAQdXS7E . It also gives the reader an opportunity to hear the piece of music in full for themselves.


'New Life' is largely a piano album, and the instrument makes its first of many appearances in the second track which is entitled 'Letting Go'. Delicate piano opens this beautiful piece, which is enhanced further with the addition of strings. A delight to listen to from start to finish, Paul says in the linear notes, "There are things that we never want to let go of, people we never want to leave behind. But keep in mind that letting go isn't the end of the world; it's the beginning of a new life." The final part of the track is more upbeat accordingly.


Dylan Schorer's pedal steel guitar makes an appearance in Track 3, 'Delayed'. It's another lovely piece, with the guitar taking the lead but with Paul's piano coming along for the ride. Paul explains the story behind the composition: "Inspired by those moments when a social standstill or stalled circumstances finally moves forward. I often feel like my appointed time of death has been delayed."


I first heard Michael Giacchino's 'Life and Death' whilst watching an episode of the popular TV series 'Lost' and knew straightaway I had to have the composition. At the time, I was thrilled to discover that a collection of Michael's music was available from the series. Paul must also have been a follower of the programme and the music, for here he does his own stunning take of the piece, and the ensuing result is an incredibly powerful piece combining piano with strings. Very moving, and an absolute joy for the listener. Paul has also made this piece available to readers on his official You Tube page, in case those perusing this are in any doubt whether or not to purchase the album. It's quite an emotional video to watch given what the reader has been told about Paul's medical problems: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jluCcb_iBvQ . Paul writes, "Each time I play this simple piece of music, I am moved to tears because it represents to me the sensitive nature of time. We grieve for those who've gone beyond. Eventually our own time will run its course. It's a depressing idea unless you have faith in a greater plan and supreme being. I believe that this life is not all there is. Our journey continues beyond the grave. We will be reunited with those we've lost and experience new life while we wait for our loved ones left behind."


'Gracie's Theme' is another simply gorgeous piece beginning as a piano solo, but then accompanied by strings. Dedicated to Gracie, a youngster who died at a tragically young age, this incredibly powerful piece tugs at the heart-strings. "Inspired by the millions of children who have gone home to God- I have known too many. Gracie is one of these beautiful souls whose brief life inspired thousands. Her spirit continues to strengthen me from the other side," writes Paul. Again, there is an official You Tube video to watch which some viewers might find a little distressing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVaaRx1-kSs or a slightly less emotional version visually (performed live in concert shortly after his successful transplant): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpCCpHNMgNk . Both videos are powerful, and the ending to the latter would warm even the coldest of hearts as Eden Joy makes an appearance.


'Journey Within' opens with graceful strings before Paul's exquisite piano playing joins in. Another lovely track in an album which overflows with melodic beauty.


Track 7, entitled 'Sign of Affection' certainly took me back. I have long been a fan of Paul's, originally having been highly impressed with his 1999 Narada offering, 'The Looking Glass'. This inspired me to buy his earlier album released in 1996 entitled 'Sign of Affection'. The title track from that album makes an appearance on 'New Life'. I love both versions, but the track's latest incarnation certainly demonstrates evidence, as if any were needed, of Paul's development and maturity as a composer not just for piano, but for a full orchestra. A wonderful piece, and one that Paul dedicates to his organ donor, whom he thinks about every day.


'Restless Hope' is a short composition written by Paul's deceased brother, Brian. Featuring Dylan Schorer's pedal steel guitar, its inclusion on the album is a lovely tribute to someone clearly so dear to Paul's heart.


'Coming Home' is simply beautiful. Sounding similar to 'Letting Go', I think this piece celebrates that magical day when Paul was allowed home, and there is certainly joy to be felt in this short composition. It is touching that the track is dedicated to his wife, Lynnette, and their daughter Eden Joy (pictured right)


'Father in Heaven' (Friedrich F. Flemming) and 'Sweet is the Work' (John J. McClellan) are two lovely hymns very much in keeping with the feel of the CD. Lovingly played by Paul, these fit in perfectly with the other pieces. Both are short and feature Paul on the piano.


There is a very moving story behind the CD's twelfth track, 'New Life'. It was composed in hospital as Paul waited for his heart-transplant. As Paul himself explains, "I would go to the piano in the evening when all was quiet. I sat there contemplating life and I wrote this song. Music for me opens a conduit to heaven and provides my soul with strength and peace." There is a sense of optimism in the piece which shines through clearly to this listener. Another delightful composition from this master pianist.


The penultimate track is entitled 'Gratitude', and guitar features again. The piece is based on Paul's song 'Grateful' from his 'Songs of Praise' album. 


This magnificent CD concludes with 'Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing', a beautiful and very gentle way to bring the CD to a perfect close. The hymn was written in the 18th. century by pastor and hymnist Robert Robinson. Paul includes the lyrics to this inspiring piece within his notes.


As if the music on this CD was not a good enough reason to order this album, there are two further incentives. Firstly, the album comes with a moving DVD, 'Celebrate Life', recorded at the Abravanel Hall in February 2010. What an ovation Paul receives, and deservedly so. Secondly, the accompanying linear notes are excellent- featuring comprehensive notes about each track, thirty six family photographs, other album information, and many words of wisdom from this highly talented composer. The following, a quote from his memoir, stands out to me: "I was born with half a heart. God made up the difference."  


I knew very quickly when I heard this music that I wanted it to appear on Piano-Heaven. It has taken some time for me to do that, but good things come to those that wait. This is an exceptional album, and one that Piano-Heaven has no hesitation in recommending from start to finish. Bravo, Paul, and may the gift of a new heart allow you to share your gift of creating heavenly music for your listeners for many years to come.










New Life

Paul Cardall





Prior to the operation






With his loving family Lynnette (left) and Eden Joy (right)