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Album Review: Beginnings
Barbara Graff
Cover image of the album Beginnings by Barbara Graff
Barbara Graff
2018 / Calm Creek Music
40 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Beginnings is a collection of ten original songs, piano solos and instrumental pieces by pianist/composer Barbara Graff that are inspiring and uplifting with their positive messages of encouragement and hope. Several of the pieces have a driving rhythm that will get your toes tapping and head bobbing as they put a smile on your face. The title track appears in three versions - the opening piano/vocal track, an instrumental arrangement and a “bonus” pop vocal version that closes the album. Vocals are provided on the first and last tracks by Diana Chittester, who really puts her heart into this anthemic celebration of life and human resiliency. In addition to piano and keyboard, the instrumental pieces feature “real musicians” playing guitar, violin, drums and pedal steel guitar (as opposed to all keyboard or synth).

Beginnings opens with the title track, “a feel-good song to unite all of us” (quoting Graff’s website). The powerful beat, joyful piano and upbeat message to “pick yourself up and begin again” would brighten just about anyone’s day. “Inspiration” goes a little bit darker and more subdued with keyboard and electronic instrumentation that create an atmosphere of warmth mixed with a little bit of magic. “Bring Me a Rainbow” is an instrumental version of Graff’s song, “This Way.” The addition of soaring strings makes the piece even more poignant and heart-tugging. “Blue Sky” provides a light and sunny breath of fresh air. Piano, guitar, bells and other gentle instrumentation paint a picture of a blissful day without a care in the world. “By My Side” goes country with pedal steel guitar, fiddle and percussion - a romantic slow dance for sure! “On My Own” has a pulsating rock beat with drums and bass behind guitars and a variety of keyboard sounds - another pleasant toe-tapper. “Magic Within” and “Dancing Shadows” are piano solos that likely would have been more effective before the bigger instrumental pieces. The piano/instrumental version of “Beginnings” doesn’t feature much of the melody, so I think it’s the same as the opening track with the vocals removed. The “pop bonus track” does have the vocals with somewhat different instrumentation - more bass and drum along with an organ sound rather than piano - plus a catchy chant in the middle. This is a fun song and likely the most radio-friendly track on the album.

Barbara Graff and Beginnings certainly have their hearts in the right place with an air of positivity and messages of encouragement. If you are looking for upbeat vocals and a varied assortment of instrumentals, check it out at www.BarbaraGraffMusic.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.
July 6, 2018