They say don't
judge a book by its cover. Well, this reviewer took
a gamble on the premise that the CD's cover artwork
was exceptionally beautiful, and from the opening
few bars of the first track, it became clear the
purchase was an inspired choice.
"In all of
life, we need a light to guide us" is a quote from
the artist's CD Baby page for this album, and is a
reference in part to the shining lighthouse which
graces the cover.
is the opening track from this wonderful collection
of what Andrew J. Ross himself describes as "a new
era with fresh compositions and a few arrangements
of ancient hymns". Upon listening to this piece, I
was reminded of the style of Michael Allen Harrison
and it was only sometime later that an examination
of the back insert revealed that the well-known
composer was in fact responsible for the recording
of the CD. I would hazard a guess that Michael Allen
Harrison has been inspirational to this young
composer- perhaps the light referred to earlier.
Make no mistake, however: Andrew has his own style,
and there is plenty of variation in this CD with the
compositions reminding me of several different
Renaissance" is a quirky, melodic affair, and is
typically a relatively short piece, coming in at
around two minutes. Andrew is at his most playful
is one of my favourite pieces. This is a slower,
more reflective piece and is exceptionally
beautiful. My only criticism of this CD is the
audible hiss that can be detected on two of the
album's tracks, and it appears during this selection
(and track fifteen). Admittedly, it is only
noticeable at a fairly high volume, but it does
detract slightly from the undisputed quality of the
"Diving In" is
another one of those pieces which remind me of
Michael Allen Harrison. The piece goes from a slow,
gentle beginning to a fairly frantic middle, before
returning to a more subdued ending. The album is
remarkably consistent for its melodic appeal, and
this is amply illustrated by this track.
Track five is
entitled "Gone Sailing". It's easy-going, and as I
listen to this piece, I am struck by Andrew's fine
technique and obvious natural ability. He and the
piano seem as one.
"New Tides" is
full of energy and is uplifting in mood. I love it!
style is "Renewal", the album's seventh track. It's
upbeat, optimistic and great fun!
has a lullaby-style opening, and is a noticeable
change in direction from the previous couple of
pieces. It is exceptionally beautiful, and I enjoy
listening to this track over and over again.
"Here I Am" is
the curiously-titled next track. The CD's insert (a
singular piece of card) offers no clues whatsoever
about the inspiration behind the music. Perhaps a
Piano-Heaven interview can address this at a later
date, but the piece nevertheless maintains the high
standard of the album as the listener has come to
"Vision" has a
simple, heavenly opening. This piece positively
twinkles! It becomes more energetic in its middle
section, before returning to a gentle conclusion.
Track eleven is
entitled, "Distant Lands", and is another piece that
has a soft, lullaby-style beginning. The waters are
calm in this track's setting. In keeping with much
of the album, the piece does develop increasing in
both tempo and energy, but it never loses its
twelve, which takes its name from the title of the
CD. Of all the pieces on this CD, this is the one
that reminds me most of the style of Michael Allen
Harrison. It follows a similar pattern in terms of
its structure to the rest of the CD, and this is yet
another great track in an album full of highlights.
Moon" would suggest a romantic, slow-tempo piece,
but the reader has probably gathered by now that
this is not likely to be the case from this
particular pianist. It is nevertheless rather
beautiful, and I particularly enjoyed the "fun"
ending which might keep the listener guessing.
a graceful, majestic opening. The title suggests
bursting into life, and the piece does just that!
incredibly difficult to select favourite tracks from
this album as there is not a single weak track at
all on this CD. That is quite something for an album
containing sixteen tracks. However, the album's
final two cuts, if push came to shove, would be my
choice. I love "Climbing Higher"- a reference
perhaps to the impeccable standards this artist is
setting himself in terms of the compositional
process? This piece reminds me of the technique of
another Michael, this time Michael Jones, the
wonderful Canadian pianist and stalwart of the
former Narada label. "Climbing Higher" is
exceptionally good, and an extended sample is
available for the listener's delectation at the
"Hold Me Near"
is breathtakingly good. It is perfect in every way.
I love the way this piece develops, and a highlight
for me is the middle section at around two minutes.
I can listen to this piece time and time again and
never grow tired of it. Be sure to check out the
sample on the right panel of this page.
Andrew's fourth CD and, from listening to samples
from earlier efforts, this is his finest moment. The
artistic growth in this young man is astonishing. He
released his first album at the tender age of
sixteen, and even now is just twenty-one years old.
Andrew J. Ross
is a man of few written words. However, I love his
rather appropriate water-themed words on his
MySpace page, "From
the most intimate depths to the shallowest parts, a
song can tell a story." Indeed it can, and this
composer succeeds at every level. What these stories
might be, remains a mystery for now, but lovers of
melodic piano music would do well to check out this
tremendous offering from this Oregon-based pianist.
Lighthouse" is exceptionally good, and I give it my