2014 / Ryan Stewart Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
I’m a little bit late to the party that is Ryan Stewart’s music and his most recent release, One Journey, but as they say, “better late than never!” What a feast for the ears, soul and heart Stewart’s third album is! Some of the thirteen tracks are solo piano and some are more orchestrated and/or embellished with strings and angelic choral voices. All have strong melodies that are on the quiet, understated side, but this is no ear candy - there is plenty of substance! This music is a wonderful backdrop for things like working, reading and dining, but is even more satisfying with full concentration on the music. Stewart is credited with piano, keyboards, recorder, and percussion as well as composition, production, arranging and co-engineering. Monte Belknap appears as principal violin, Nicole Pinnell as principal cello, and Ryan’s daughter, Aysia provides the principal voice. Performed on a Yamaha C7 grand piano, the piano sound is full, rich, and elegant. Stewart describes the album this way: “We all have one life, one dream, one chance, one world, one regret, one heart, one (insert your own word). YOUR individual experiences sum up your One Journey in THIS life. This album represents some of my more poignant life experiences found within my on-going journey.”
One Journey begins with “When We Met,” a light yet passionate and nostalgic look back to a very special moment. A graceful piano solo, it will immediately draw you in and make you wonder if the rest of the album is this good - it is! “Here and Now” casts a gentle but very magical spell. Beginning as a piano solo, it evolves into a piece backed by voices and orchestration as well as “live” violin (not digital). This piece clearly demonstrates Stewart’s affinity for film soundtracks. “Brighter” is enchanting and very visual. The flowing piano intertwines with atmospheric sounds as well as voices and orchestration that are haunting and ethereal. “Innocence” is a piano solo with some added reverb that gives it a mysterious feeling - very effective! Although there isn’t a weak track on the whole album, “The Portrait” is a favorite - perhaps because of the piano/violin combination, which I love, but also because it has such an emotional richness that is classical yet contemporary. I also love “Windows of Time,” a haunting piano solo with a beautiful flowing quality and a poignant melody that is simple but deeply heartfelt. “Our Story” would be perfect behind the closing credits of an emotional movie. Mostly piano, the light orchestration behind it makes it even more compelling - gorgeous! “Coming Home” brings the album to a close with an sense of anticipation and excitement. There isn’t any piano in this one, but it’s very beautiful and cinematic.
What a great album this is! Even though it was released in 2014, I expect it to be on my list of Favorites for the year. One Journey is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!
May 30, 2015