Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Dreamscapes By James Michael Stevens




James Michael Stevens

Written by

Steve Sheppard


James Michael Stevens is one of the most prolific writers and performers of gentle solo piano works around, and what’s more each and every album release is original, calming and a simple delight to listen to, so the same can be said easily about his latest manifestation entitled Dreamscapes.

The delightful soft pastiche of textures starts with the opening track Starlight Serenade, a gentler opening composition you will not find anywhere, simply perfection to begin our mellow journey. This voyage moves to the next piece called Silver Stream, this however is a more energetic opus, but only in its more elevated status and higher notes, one could with ease depict a mountain stream in late March with this piece.

Reflection at Red Bay is our next musical harbour, the melodic structures here are both reflective and soothing; the music reminded me of what you would find in a romantic segment in a movie, whilst on Pastel Sky we have a more ambient creation all together, this composition is brilliantly created and for me depicts the vista of an early autumn sky.

We now move to a transitionary offering called Prelude Simplice, this respectful slice of calm manifests a form of beauty we once heard from other pianists back in the day, those quiet moments of a rare peace and solitude are well found within the realms of this lovely creation.

There is a certain power and intent in this next arrangement entitled Purple Wave, the tones flow from James’s piano, like the caress of a warm spring afternoon; one can also feel through the artist performance a certain happiness that seems to spill out graciously to all.

Moments of reflective and almost meditative serenity can be found on this next manifestation called Silently 'Neath the Willow Tree. The mood of performance will bring us visuals of happier days, perhaps by the river under a Willow tree, regardless this is yet another tranquil and emotive offering from the pianist.

We slide into Birch Grove now, this piece has a blissful sense of mystery about its compositional structure, one that is deeply intriguing, the minor chords and notes add layer upon layer of enigmatic pleasure in one of the most film score styled pieces from the release.

I have always wanted to go to Venice, but until I do, I will listen to this track entitled Twilight in Venice in an effort to travel vicariously, this slow and tempered offering is a boat-man’s delight, one with ease could imagine a gentle ride with a loved one along the waterways at night in Venice to this one.

Our concluding musical narrative is called Memories Drift Quietly, this time piece of an offering is almost mesmeric, one can get lost within the tick and tock of this compelling composition, but the pianists always soothing approach transforms this final arrangement into an almost lullaby offering, and of course what an idyllic way with which to end such a beautiful album.

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