James Michael Stevens
I sat and gazed at the album cover for this release, it is so redolent of the subject matter, and expresses just how beautiful the season of autumn is, here the prolific pianist manifests 10 gorgeous tracks that are deeply reflective and draw a wonderful narrative for me as the season closes here in pure sunshine, as I listen intently to Autumn Voices by James Michael Stevens.
The opening track is sublime and gets us off to the perfect start it’s called Come When the Leaves Turn Colors. A magical time indeed, a pastiche of beauty and a cascade of colour, Steven’s performance here is so heart felt and artistic, playing light with darkness, minor and major, he has manifested the perfect start to the release.
This time of year can be very mournful, and October Prelude is a fine example of that. Summers last dying wave can be seen drifting over a golden horizon as a picture book shift in energies begins to take place; this transcendence into autumn is portrayed perfectly by Stevens, with a thoughtful hand on the keys.
The shortest track off the album at just less than two minutes is up next and called Sunnywood Waltz, with such style and grace James manifests a wonderful flowing melody, a happy, yet caressing last kiss of a sunny day, as the seasons dance the dance of change.
A special moment now as we open the Autumn Music Box, there is a sensitive mood here, one surrounded by a little mystery and magic to. This appealing opus is one to deeply enjoy, its memorable tones permeate through and into the mind, in the same way that the late autumn sun is doing right now through the curtains that filter the daylight from the dust of ages. A truly moving creation from the artist can be found here.
Many will know of my love of musical manifestations about rivers, among other subjects, and I am so delighted to be listening to one of the best this year from the pianist called Beside the Gentle Stream. I spent many years doing this with my father, whilst we fished on mirrored pools and soothing streams, while an October texture hovered by, this piece, this presentation, speaks volumes for that very moment, a beautifully played composition indeed.
A wonderful descriptive arrangement can be found on the piece Hunters Branch, a slow but creative tapestry of tone can be found here, one with a nicely performed repeating motif too, and this leads us so very gracefully into the next track entitled Swan at Lake Almsee, now this is a fine example of music creation by an artist who has clearly sat and just watched swans in motion, in the water you will not see a more graceful creature, and Stevens performance is exactly that, elegant attractive and dignified.
We float into the deeper waters of the release now, and as we do so we come across an almost anthem like offering entitled Silent Teardrops, how delicate this is, so pristine that its falls from the sky like a late November mist. Steven’s sensitivity comes to the fore here, in a performance that is so redolent of the old new age piano classics from the late 90’s, of artist like Lanz and Winston perhaps.
One of my favourite pieces off the album came at the penultimate position off the release, and called Solemn Soliloquy, this sombre, yet quite beautiful performance is so stunning, its complex yet thoughtful narrative touched my musical heart, and its sympathetic tones were incredibly profound, a truly poignant and heartfelt arrangement indeed.
The concluding offering entitled I Saw a Star and Prayed was indeed a respectful and emotive way with which to finish the album, a gentle onward progression and into an almost hymnal styled structure, one that ended with a soft and reverential Coda.
Autumn Voices by James Michael Stevens is a delightful album, its story book styled narrative takes us hand in hand through to the end of the season of mists in autumn, and its beauty and tenderness speaks to us all, this is one of those albums that you will always turn to at this time of year, without doubt it is a warm security blanket of musical serenity to cuddle up with, and is a release of ultimate artistic endeavour.
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