"It's About the
Rose" is the very impressive follow-up to
Allure of Sanctuary,
and sees Karen Marie Garrett at her creative and
original best. A year in the making, "It's About the
Rose" features all-original recordings, and reunites
Karen with the legendary Grammy-Award winner Will
Ackerman as her producer.
There must be
something about the opening tracks of Karen's CDs.
Just as "Tip-Toe Dancer" was my favourite cut of
"Allure of Sanctuary", so the first track hits the
mark on her latest offering. The curiously titled
"It's About the Rose in the Vase on the Table" gets
the CD off to a wonderful start. This piece just
flows along so effortlessly; it could last all day
and I would not tire of it. Karen tells how
originally she struggled with this track, but was
inspired by a story about childhood she heard. Karen
says, "I heard an interview with Matthew McConaughey,
who spoke of his childhood and a lesson his mother
would impart to a boy caught up in life's little
dramas. She'd remind him it's really "about the rose
in the vase on the table". I loved both the thought
and the image- and returned to the song, which
suddenly fell into place for me." The track has a
delightful melody, and rolls along without a hint of
the troubles the composer initially encountered.
favourite is the second cut of the CD- "Tally's
Lullaby". Jointly composed with cellist Eugene
Frisen (Grammy-Award winner), this is a mournful yet
beautiful piece lamenting the passing of a fan's pet
dog. This was in response to a letter Karen had
received, explaining how "Simple Things" from
"Allure of Sanctuary" had helped with the grieving
process. Such is the power of Karen's music.
Overwhelmed by the letter, the composer was inspired
to write "Tally's Lullaby". The cello and piano are
a partnership made in heaven in this piece, and I am
sure Tally will be both relaxed and honoured in her
final resting place.
Called" is a piece which warrants repeated
listening, initially reminding me of "Toll of War"
from "Allure of Sanctuary". It quickly takes its own
direction, however. A simple, pretty melody on
solo-piano is the end-result of an improvisation
late one evening when Karen felt her creative voice
Another piece I
really like is the album's fifth track, "Moon
Night". Upbeat in comparison to other tracks, this
is a spicy little number featuring Derrik Jordan on
the djembe drum and violin. It conjures up visions
of exotic settings. Perhaps that rose in the vase on
the table has worked its magic, and romance is in
the air. This is inspirational music, and has a
Latin flavour. "Moon Night" is music to which to
"Waiting" is a
piece born out of frustration, whilst awaiting the
results of medical tests. The left hand is used to
represent the passing of time (ticking of a clock).
The right hand captures the anxiety of the moment.
Yet still Karen delivers a memorable melody- its
positiveness generated, one would expect, by the
welcome relief of the eventual results. As Karen
explains to me, "I used the dynamics of both hands
to express the intense conflict in being caught in
homage to both Beethoven and Chopin in Track 7, with
"Beethoven, Chopin and the Rose". In the sleeve
notes, Karen explains that she greatly admires both
masters' works- "I wondered what it would feel like
to combine an essence of both and yet retain a
simple, touching melody". She certainly succeeds in
doing this, and the end product is a lovely piece.
Karen demonstrates once again that she is happy to
draw upon her classical roots for inspiration.
Dancer" was arguably the most-loved composition of
"Allure of Sanctuary", and the title returns here in
a different form as Track 9, "Tip-Toe Dancer and the
Sea Pearl". This time we move away from the
ballerina, to a young boy on the beach one Sunday
afternoon, dancing and twirling in delight of his
newly-found treasure. The music has a playful
quality, and Steve Schuch's violin is a welcome
addition to the piece.
In Track 11,
"Daydreams", the tempo is slowed right down. This is
a reflective piece- music in which to immerse
oneself in deep thought. Very beautiful, and with
definite meditative qualities, Karen describes it as
"a Summer idyll". A very simple track, and soporific
fittingly closes with "Finale of the Rose", a
resurrection of the first track, which is explored
further by Karen, with additional instrumental
accompaniments. Will Ackerman plays the hopi drum
and chime bars, Jeff Oster plays the flugal horn,
Steve Schuch returns on violin, and Derrik Jordan
provides additional percussion. The end-result
showcases the beauty of the original melody in its
finest form, and is a fitting way to close the CD.
"It's About the
Rose" was recorded at Will Ackerman's Imaginary Road
Studios in Vermont during 2006. A Steinway Concert
Grand was used for the recording. The sound quality
and production values are, as ever, impeccable.
About the Rose", Karen Marie Garrett shows continued
artistic growth, revealing her creative qualities to
the full, without losing that special gift for
melody which makes her compositions so endearing to
her ever-increasing legions of fans. A true gem of a
CD- pure Piano Heaven.