One of the most rewarding aspects of reviewing CDs is that every once in a while, a recording comes along that really whacks me upside the head. David Hicken’s “Goddess” is one of those albums. I had listened to samples on Hicken’s site, but they did not prepare me for the absolute beauty of the music on this album. It grabbed my attention as soon as I started listening to it, but since the music is rather uncomplicated, I wasn’t sure I would like it as much after listening to it a number of times. On the contrary. Rather than becoming trite and tiresome, these gentle little nuggets become more dear to me each time I hear them. In fact, I’ve been dragging my feet a bit in writing the review because I know that once it is written, I won’t have time to listen to “Goddess” again for a while. Happily, David Hicken is releasing part two of this trilogy as I write, so my blissful listening experience can go on. Each of the twelve tracks is named for a mythological goddess from various parts of the world. My only reservation about this album is that the warrior goddess and the goddess of volcanoes and fire are as serene and benevolent as the moon goddesses, but if that’s the worst thing I can say about it, you are in for a real treat! Parts of this album remind me a bit of Kevin Kern and Michael Dulin (without any orchestrations - these are all piano solos), but David Hicken’s is a unique musical voice. A very accomplished musician in several instruments, I suspect that Hicken, like Kern and Dulin, is so secure in his musicianship that he has no need for a lot of flash or bravado. The music is such an entity unto itself that it has the ring of truth in its simplicity.
“Lakshmi,” Hindu goddess of prosperity begins the CD. The graceful melody gently floats on a peaceful cloud of sound. “Kuan Yin” is the Chinese goddess of compassion, and this piece is all about open-heartedness and kindness. “Sekhmet,” the Egyptian warrior goddess picks up the tempo a little but is very non-threatening, charming her adversaries into submission rather than physically beating them - I like that! “Sarasvati,” Hindu goddess of the arts, is poignant and bittersweet, alternating between major and minor modes throughout the piece. “Ishtar,” Babylonian goddess of the moon and Venus, is cool and aloof, elegant but approachable. “Isis,” another a moon goddess, is also a bit distant and elusive, but ever so beautiful. Her gentle serenity is so inviting. “Ostara” is the Teutonic goddess of fertility and springtime, and conveys warmth and hope. “Sedna” is the Inuit Eskimo and Alaskan goddess of the ocean. The left hand plays rolling, broken chords while the right hand dances lightly on the surface, again very tranquil and exquisite. “Diana,” Roman moon goddess, flows in coolness and grace. The closing track, “Pele,” is warm and wistful, ending this extraordinary musical hour with a smile and a sigh.
If you haven’t been able to tell, I REALLY like this album, and expect it to be on my “favorites” list for the year. Give your ears as well as your spirit a rare treat and check it out at www.davidhicken.com, cdbaby.com, amazon.com, and iTunes. I wholeheartedly recommend “Goddess”!
Reviewed by Kathy Parson's Mainly Piano website reprinted with permission on Ambient Visions