Reflected In a Flowing Stream
2017 / Overland Mountain Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Kathryn Kaye’s sixth album, Reflected In a Flowing Stream, is a bit different from her previous releases in that her classical background is more readily apparent. What hasn’t changed is her velvet touch on the piano keys and gentle, sensitive composing style. I have loved all of Kathryn’s albums so my expectations were high, but this one still coaxes a quiet “wow!” from me each time I hear it. Recorded at Imaginary Road Studios, produced by Will Ackerman, Tom Eaton, and Kaye, and recorded, mixed and mastered by Eaton, the album features several of the extraordinary musicians who often grace the recordings from Imaginary Road.
A native of southeast Kentucky, Kaye started playing hymns, folk music, and children’s songs on her family’s piano at the age of four. Although she was a very active musical performer throughout her youth, it wasn’t until she attended college that she learned to read music. She continued her training in Germany in both singing and piano and also performed professionally as a classical singer, folk singer, composer, pianist, and church organist. She released her first album, Dreaming Still, in 2010.
Reflected In a Flowing Stream begins with “A Lark in the Last Light of Day,” one of two piano solos on the album. Sometimes very still, and sometimes full of movement, it’s a gorgeous opening that demonstrates the beauty and versatility of Kaye’s composing and playing styles. “As Seasons Change” features Eugene Friesen on cello and Tony Levin on bass. Poignant and full of longing, the haunting piano melody will stay with you long after the piece has ended. “Procession of Moon and Stars” goes in a more classical direction with cello, flugelhorn (Jeff Oster) and accordion (Eaton) in addition to the piano. Although the cadence of the piece is the steady rhythm of a processional, the melody is graceful and fluid - a very interesting study in contrasts. The first half of “The Stillness Before Dawn” is a gentle and delicate piano solo. The second movement features Jill Haley on English horn, and the third finishes as a piano solo. The quiet peacefulness of this piece is profound. “No Reason Not to Dance” picks up the tempo and brings in the wonderful Charlie Bisharat on violin. “April Rain” is the second piano solo and is exquisite, reminding me of a lyrical Mendelssohn “Song Without Words.” It is also my favorite piece on the album. “A Shower of Summer Nights” is performed by a trio of piano, violin (Bisharat) and accordion (Eaton). Really? Actually, the first part is solo piano and the accordion is pretty subtle, but Bisharat really gives this beautiful piece wings. The title track features piano, English horn (Haley) and cello (Friesen) and is as peaceful as its title implies. You can almost feel the dark chill of “Arctic Night,” a very spare and amazingly descriptive piece for piano, cello and bass - also a favorite as well as the closing track of the album.
As I said earlier, I have loved all of Kathryn Kaye’s albums, but I think this is her best work to date. It is my first “Pick” of 2017 and could very easily be a Favorite for the year. Reflected In a Flowing Stream is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!
January 1, 2017
Review by Michael Debbage
Review by Kathy Parsons