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Album Review: The Arrow and the Song
Brad Jacobsen
Cover image of the album The Arrow and the Song by Brad Jacobsen
The Arrow and the Song
Brad Jacobsen
2014 / Brad Jacobsen Music
50 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
The Arrow and the Song is pianist/composer Brad Jacobsen’s fourth solo piano album to date. Inspired by nature, poetry and changing seasons, the twelve pieces on the album are somewhat quieter and more peaceful than Jacobsen’s previous release, 13 Tales. One track is a beautiful medley of “The Water Is Wide” and “Shenandoah” while another is an arrangement of “By the Banks (Loch Lomond),” but the other ten are original compositions intended to uplift, soothe, and inspire. Jacobsen started playing the piano at the age of eight and has a very expressive, fluid touch. A former children’s librarian, he also has a real knack for storytelling that carries over into his music. I was able to see Brad play in concert with two other Whisperings artists last weekend and found myself magically drawn into his warm and seemingly effortless playing style.

The title for The Arrow and the Song comes from a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that aptly describes the creative process and how artistic expression can often feel like shooting an arrow into the air. It also describes the rewarding experience of finding a song that was shot into the air at home in the heart of a friend. The music was recorded and mastered at Joe Bongiorno’s Piano Haven Studio and performed on his wonderful Shigeru Kawai grand piano.

The Arrow and the Song begins with “Daybreak,” a piece as gentle and full of promise as its title. “By the Banks (Loch Lomond)” is based on a traditional folk ballad, played with heart and longing. “Tender Willow” was originally composed for a friend with a terminal illness, and expresses gentle strength as well as grace. “The Water Is Wide” and “Shenandoah” have both appeared in many different musical forms over the years, but Jacobsen succeeds in making them his own with his passionate solo piano version. I can hear some of David Lanz’s influence in the beautiful and lighthearted “White-tailed” - a favorite. I also really like “Hushed October Morning Mild,” a peaceful piece that is soft, dreamy and very expressive. “Autumn Ends” has the kind of strong melody that could support lyrics but tells its story just fine without them. I love “Barren Boughs,” that so poignantly describes the changing of seasons from fall into the dark months of winter. “Smoke Upon the Hills” is a very heartfelt song without words that tells its story with emotional expression rather than words. “Map of White” beautifully conveys the peaceful calm of a snow-covered landscape - silent and pure - and brings this excellent album to a close.

Brad Jacobsen is becoming one of my favorite pianist/composers and The Arrow and the Song gives a very good indication of why. It is available from www.bradjacobsenmusic.com, Amazon and iTunes. Recommended!!!
February 1, 2015