Paint the sky
2013 / Robbins Island Muisc
Review by Michael Debbage
While Bradley Joseph has been releasing recorded material, it has been ten years since he released a recording of original material. Was the wait worth it? One listen to the outstanding Paint the Sky and it will have you shouting out yes with your arms reaching to the skies! So much so that Joseph’s latest recording could arguably compete with his landmark recording Rapture recorded back in 1997 for the Narada label. Yes, Paint the Sky is that significant a recording.
Bradley’s early break came courtesy of touring with Yanni back in 1990 when he replaced keyboard player John Tesh. His tours with Yanni continued through 1995 and despite this huge undertaking, in 1994 he found the time to release his impressive debut Hear The Masses. Three years later it appeared that the New Age genre had commercially peaked when all of sudden Joseph’s recording Rapture appeared and what a beauty it was. It almost single handedly gave a sense of hope that there was much more that the New Age genre could offer. Though not as commercially viable as Yanni or David Lanz as far as moved units, nevertheless this recording was still that significant.
Joseph continued to release impressive original material all the way up to 2003 with a greater focus on space versus embellishments but could not compete with the ecstasy of Rapture. The arrival of Paint the Sky changes all that representing Joseph’s most complete recording since the previously mentioned landmark album. The optimism of this album is felt immediately courtesy of the buoyancy of “Inside The Stars”, filled with Joseph’s nifty piano work more in the vein of Bruce Hornsby, then layered in strings and percussion work. This is a perfect song for a road trip and this upbeat tempo can also be discovered on “Into The Blue” bringing to mind the musical opening theme of that old western television show The Big Valley.
Bubbly themes are continued throughout the album courtesy of “Brave New Day” and the more mid- tempo “Rainbow Fields” that also include Joseph’s trademark wordless chants. His piano work here are sublime along with percussive patterns we would have seen from Yanni’s unique drummer Charlie Adams. Speaking of progressive, check out the multi movements found on the challenging “In Dreams Awake”. Clocking in at close to seven minutes, the song opens with an extended piece of strings that almost appear to be battling against each other, only to move into a beautiful dreamy midsection to once again return to the more chaotic strings. Much like our nonsensical dreams, “In Dreams Awake” works and will stir your emotions.
The remainder of the album is filled with Joseph’s uncanny ability to compose elegant and emotive ballads. Back track to “Secrets Of The Sun” that gentle sways in the piano and string arrangements with similar results found on “The Edge Of My Heart”. But if you want your music to breath check out “Spirit Of The Calm” or even the solo piano work on the closer “Remembering” more in the vein of the musical themes found on the spatial project One Deep Breath.
For the last decade, Bradley has been covering the work of other artists so hearing another album of original material is a huge treat. Joseph’s own original material is so worthy that we can only hope that we do not have to wait another decade. And whether you have enjoyed Joseph’s more spatial recordings or his deeper embellished adventures, Paint the Sky essential is a musical rainbow of where Joseph has been and where he can potential go. Not only will this be one of the top choices of 2013, Paint the Sky will challenge many of us to ask if this is Bradley Joseph’s best recording to date. It certainly is a very close call.
June 10, 2013