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Album Review: A Simple Life
Brian Crain
Cover image of the album A Simple Life by Brian Crain
A Simple Life
Brian Crain
1999 / Crain Records
43 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
A Simple Life is Brian Crain’s fourth album, and is stunning in its uncluttered beauty. Gentle, heartfelt piano pieces with synth accompaniment envelop the listener in soothing warmth. Crain’s music works so well partly due to its total lack of pretentiousness. It is simple, direct, and honest. I can’t help but think he must be one exceptionally nice guy. It is not surprising to learn that Crain has done work in film scoring - his music seems especially well-suited to accompany and enhance visual material.

”Moonrise” opens the album with a wistful little melody in the upper registers of the piano. The piece gradually builds to a majestic climax befitting a spectacular full moon, and then it trails off. “Light in the Window” has an air of mystery about it, and the opening moments almost tiptoe - perhaps trying to see what is going on inside. “Northern Lights” is a favorite - the melody is simple with an arpeggiated bass line and gentle background synth strings. “Sunshine and Blossoms” is a soft spring breeze carrying the scent of new grass and freshly-opened flowers. “Voice From the Past” is much more melancholy - the opening theme is rubato and tentative, and then evolves into a classical waltz with an almost Russian feel. The two themes weave in and out very effectively. “A Walk in the Forest” reminds me of some of Robin Spielberg’s themes. “Butterfly Waltz” is a light, carefree dance that is as gentle as its title. “Childhood Memories” returns to wistful melancholy. The title track closes out the set with a sweet, flowing conclusion.

Most of the pieces from A Simple Life are primarily in the upper registers of the piano, and while each piece stands well on its own, there is a strong continuity to the album. The pieces are all on the slow side, and although the moods and feelings change from song to song, there is nothing jarring or mood-altering. This is a beautiful and satisfying CD, and I strongly recommend it to lovers of quiet piano music.

Presently, Brian Crain’s recordings can only be purchased from his website at www.briancrain.com.
January 1, 1999
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