Tuesday, May 21, 2024

When April Flowers By James Michael Stevens


When April Flowers


James Michael Stevens

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There are few things in life that are given as a certainty, but one of them is a musical gift that keeps on giving moments of utter peace and tranquillity, that moment of course is the release of a James Michael Stevens album, his is one of a very few pianists who I could just sit and listen to with ease all day long, one can get lost in his solo piano reveries, and those moments of calm will transfigure into a tranquillity that is always flowing in abundant beauty.

The good news is that James has another new album for us to bathe in and it’s called When April Flowers, this topical set of compositions are as beautiful and full flowing as the title suggest, simply take a listen to the proud title track that opens the album, When April Flowers is a piano panacea of utter perfection.

We can then drift into the welcome arms of Softly the Petals of the Rose Fall, a track of observation and composition, the soft pastels of colour that drift with its heady scent from Stevens piano on this piece are quite intoxicating, the gentle caress of the keys is one of the pianists best attributes, and on this track specifically, it is done with great skill and style.

This album has textures to be desired, track 3 is special in that aspect, a slight minor context is drawn into a composition that is deeply touching and called Reflection in a Ripple. Steven’s soothing narrative is a total pleasure, but his added reflective nuances give us as listeners that extra dimension to embrace, this one could also be used as a theme for a movie love segment with ease too.

This next piece is one of my personal favourites; the structures that Stevens uses to manifest this offering are dreamlike and memory filled, one could easily sit atop of a lush hillside and blissfully drift away in pleasant memories shared to this piece called Forever Lavender, whilst on Among the Daffodils an almost waltz like movement can be heard, one that sways like the flowers in a warming spring breeze.

Serenade Dulce is our first footfall in the second half of the album, this charming offering is a heart-warming composition that manifests a serene mood, and the loving touch on the piano by the artist, is that final piece of the jigsaw that gives us an almost meditative reverie to completely enjoy.

Interestingly enough the shortest track off the album is up now and called Silent Highway, in just 139 seconds James Michael Steven’s creates a piece that is both mysterious and compelling, you are alone on the Silent Highway perhaps heading for a town not marked on any map, and this music is the soundtrack for that very event.

We step into the deeper waters of the release now with the track Serenity Sunset as our present for doing so, a delicate but pronounced arrangement is here to greet us, and its confidence is a pleasure to be close to. Steven’s careful progression through this composition is well worth a listen to, there are many nuances to behold and enjoy.

The penultimate offering from the album is called Elegy at Dusk; its sombre refrains are deeply touching. This is a truly beautiful and emotive composition; there is an alternating element of reflectiveness and of compassion built within the weave of this track that is so very moving.

So we arrive at the last piece off the release, this concluding composition is entitled Dreaming 'neath the Moonlight. In full piano bar mode Steven’s delivers his final parting gift with such warmth and tenderness, and thus manufactures easily the most romantic offering from the album.

When April Flowers by James Michael Stevens is another album in a long line of brilliant releases from the artist, if you are new to the solo piano genre, then purchasing a copy of this album will be the best thing you will ever do, it is stunningly beautiful, at times deeply moving, and always lovingly performed, a more soothing solo piano narrative you would not find. 

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