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Album Review: Reflections
Alejandro Santoyo
Cover image of the album Reflections by Alejandro Santoyo
Alejandro Santoyo
2020 / Banade Records
40 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Reflections is the sixth album from pianist/composer Alejandro Santoyo, but is the first of his recordings that I've heard. The nine original piano solos on the album were born out of the COVID pandemic and the uncertain times we are currently living in. Santoyo says that the music came to him as a message of hope for the times to come: "I hope it can bring people a moment of escape, peace, and tranquility."

Santoyo was born in Indiana (USA) and has lived in the US, Europe and Latin America. He started playing the piano by ear and composing when he was seven years old. He attended Berklee College of Music and earned his Masters Degree in Music Theory and Composition from the University of New Mexico. An active performer, composer and producer both in the US and internationally, Santoyo also writes music for theater, film, documentaries and other media arts. Although he is classically-trained, Santoyo's music defies categorization and indicates influences from genres that include pop, new age, classical, jazz, avant garde, world and even a touch of techno.

Reflections begins with the title track, a dreamy yet energetic piece that is made even more atmospheric with extensive use of the piano's pedals to soften and blur any edges in the music - one of my favorite tracks on the album. "Your Softness" has a beautiful warmth and grace that give it the feeling of a tender love song. A seven-minute track, it expresses a variety of emotions that are sometimes passionate and sometimes soft, delicate and poignant. "Horizon" makes me think of someone daydreaming and staring off into the distance, appearing to be focused on the horizon, but not really seeing anything at all except the images in his or her mind. "Sea of Dreams" is another favorite with its flowing broken-chord pattern and bittersweet melody. I also really like "Perseverancia," which seems to offer eloquent and passionate encouragement to never give up or lose hope - no matter what. As its title suggests, "Tenderness" overflows with warmth and the gentle emotions that are exchanged between people who truly care about each other. "Lightness" has an easy, effortless feeling that seems to indicate that all is right with the world - at least for a few moments! The reflective and deeply felt "Shining Spirit" expresses passionate emotion that comes straight from the heart and flows freely from the fingertips as they touch the piano keys. Reflections closes with the very aptly-named "Calming." Slow, open and very soothing, it's a wonderful way to end this beautiful and very inspiring album.

Reflections is a slice of musical heaven, and who couldn't use a bit of that? The album is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites such as Spotify. Be sure to give it a listen!
May 7, 2021