Reviews 08-22-2013

Music Reviews 



Love's River

by Laura Sullivan

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Listening to Laura Sullivan reminds me of why I fell in love with piano music in the first place. Her new album is called Love’s River and it is marvelous entry into her growing catalog of musical works. While it is true that she had a little help on this album including the likes of Will Ackerman, Jeff Oster, Nancy Rumbel and Suzanne Doucet there is no doubt as to who is the focus and the heart of her latest release. With help of that caliber it might even explain why I felt transported to my early days of exploring the new age and ambient music that Windham Hill and Narada used to put out as I listened to the beautiful compositions that poured out of my speakers.

I want to apologize to Laura for taking so long to deliver a review of her work that obviously deserves all the praise that everyone has given it including mine being added in this review. There was a feeling and a spirit that characterized the music that came out in the early 90’s from those labels mentioned above and it made that music special in my mind and the songs have endured in my heart to this very day. Laura’s playing on Love’s River is as close as I have heard anyone come in a long time. There is an innocence that Laura has captured in her poignant compositions that immediately reach out and touch your heart. Not in a heavy handed way but with a soft caress that stirs your emotions and brings them right to the surface in no time at all. The music that she has created on Love’s River is delicate and skillfully woven into a blanket of sound that you just want to wrap yourself up in and sit quietly gazing out the window and being in the moment.

The mixing and recording of this album were expertly done and deftly handled as is obvious from the very first song right through the end as the last refrains fade away. At one point on Moonlight Passage Jeff Oster’s horn delivers a haunting counterpoint to Laura’s piano playing and almost gives the song a soft, jazzy feel of a late night show in a darkened club. The mixes of the songs were just right and Laura’s accompaniment musicians added depth and feeling to her music but in the end it was Laura’s piano playing that shone forth like the sun and dazzled me completely.

The best way to describe Laura’s playing on Love’s River is that it was tender. Her light touch on the keys gave the music an airy, peaceful feeling that put me at ease from the very first note. I think that the songs I enjoyed the most were those that exuded simplicity and allowed my mind to drift back to less complicated times in my life when simply sitting on the porch and watching life on a lazy summer afternoon was more than enough activity for me to be doing. It is always difficult to take a group of songs and then try to quantify with words just how those songs made you feel and explain to your readers concepts that are much better experienced than read about but we reviewers do try to do that anyway. I hope that I have been able to do Laura's music justice in this review.

My favorite tracks from this release, and I am resisting the urge to say I liked them all equally well, are Wishing On a Dandelion,
Love’s River, Blessed, Story of the Rain, and Snowfall On Water. These are the songs that I can shut my eyes to with my headphones on and the music carries me away. Wishing On A Dandelion conveys the sweet innocence of a child as the child plays amongst the dandelions in their front yard stopping to pick one and then blow off the seeds before moving on.  All of the music on this album overflows with a gentle but deep emotion that leaves the listener adrift on a warm and dreamy sea composed of memories of those loving and happy times of their lives.

If you haven’t guessed already I am highly recommending this album to you and would suggest that you add it to your collection right away. It is one of those albums that you might want to keep near your CD player or keep the music files in an easy to access place on your computer because I think that you will be coming back to them quite often to listen to the songs that Laura has served up on Love’s River. Thanks Laura for such a beautiful collection of songs.

Reviewed by Michael Foster, editor Ambient Visions