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Album Review: Simple Beauty
Bill Leslie
Cover image of the album Simple Beauty by Bill Leslie
Simple Beauty
Bill Leslie
2010 / Capitol Broadcasting Company
51 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Simple Beauty is Bill Leslie’s inspiring tribute to those everyday things that make living so worthwhile - a long walk with a puppy, a child’s smile, the song of bird. The idea for the album began with four ancient Celtic melodies that Leslie learned from legendary Irish musician Micheal O’Domhnaill. From there, Leslie composed ten of his own pieces in a similar Celtic style and put them all together to make a gentle, sweet, and overwhelmingly beautiful album. This is the kind of music that sweeps over you, making troubles less bothersome, and restoring a sense of well-being. The morning news anchor at Raleigh, NC’s WRAL, Leslie is also an extraordinary musician. On this album, he plays acoustic guitar, Celtic whistles, piano, bass, and keyboards. He is joined by Bill Covington on grand piano, Brent Cotten on guitar, Jennifer Curtis on violin, Nancy Green on cello, his son Will on percussion, and Linda Metz on flute. All of the tracks are instrumental this time, with the inclusion of a few recorded sounds - Bill talking to his puppy, a child laughing, the song of a bird, etc. There isn’t a weak track on this album, and if you don’t feel like you’ve had a nice shoulder massage by the end of a few tracks, you haven’t been listening very closely!

“Walking Rufus” is the first of the “simple beauties.” Very light, playful, and full of love, like the puppy who inspired it, the full ensemble gets the album off to a great start! “Smitten” overflows with the all-consuming passion of a youth discovering new emotions and depths of feeling. “Lauren Marie” was composed as a tribute to Leslie’s daughter and her new husband as they begin their life together. Joyous and full of heart, it’s a wedding gift to treasure! “Holy Smile” begins with the infectious laughter of a small child. The melody is sweet and tender, and is passed from one instrument to the next, creating a gorgeous tapestry of sounds. Bill Leslie put together beautiful slide shows with “Lauren Marie” and “Holy Smile” that are featured on the WRAL website. “Intimate” celebrates soulful relationships and the joy of a new hobby. The simple, lilting melody is lighter than air yet deeply meaningful. Love it! “Calum Sgaire” is one of the ancient Irish songs that Leslie dusted off and brought up-to-date without compromising the spirit of the piece. Bill Covington really shines at the piano on this one! “Way Down South” is another stand-out. Inspired by a bellbird while Leslie was hiking in New Zealand last year, it is spirited yet full of yearning - a beauty! The traditional piece “Maid of Coolmore” begins with a wonderful piano solo by Bill Covington and becomes a duet for piano and flute before the full ensemble joins in. I also really love “Watauga Wind,” a bittersweet and somewhat darker piece that tells of bitter mountain winters. The closing “simple beauty” is “Coinleach Glas an Fhomhair,” a piece that Leslie calls “one of the most haunting Gaelic songs ever written.” Celtic whistle, piano, violin, and cello cast a spell as they tell their tale of old. Sigh - I’m now soothed into a big warm puddle!

This is one fantastic album, so treat your ears, heart, and soul to Simple Beauty! It is available from billleslie.com, Amazon, CD Baby, and iTunes. I give it my highest recommendation!
September 22, 2010
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Guitar musicKathy's Favorites: 2010