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Album Review: By the Sea
Carolyn Southworth
Cover image of the album By the Sea by Carolyn Southworth
By the Sea
Carolyn Southworth
2016 / Heron's Point Music
43 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
By the Sea is the fourth release from Carolyn Southworth, including the 2009 collaborative Lullaby Album she composed and recorded with her daughter, Jennifer Thomas. By the Sea is a collection of twelve original piano solos intended to create an atmosphere for unwinding and relaxation. Southworth is a life-long musician and teacher who lives on an island near Puget Sound, WA, so she spends lots of time near the Pacific and is very familiar with how soothing and nurturing the rhythms and the majesty of the ocean can be. Also a very accomplished violinist and photographer, Southworth is an exceptional artist and I think that is very apparent in the music as well as the album’s artwork. Keeping the music direct and uncomplicated, Southworth relies on her gentle melodies and flowing rhythms to express the beauty that she sees around her in such a way that the listener can see it, too. By the Sea is an album that can easily serve as background music, but be sure to enjoy the pleasure of really listening to it all the way through. You’ll be glad you did!

By the Sea begins with the title track, a lovely piece with a simple melody and a left hand pattern that ebbs and flows like a very peaceful ocean tide - a wonderful opening! “Sands of Time” has a rolling left hand pattern that I love to play as much as I love to listen to. Poignant and gently bittersweet, it’s a favorite. “Reflections” makes me think of the sparkle of late afternoon sunlight dancing on the quiet ocean waves just before the sun starts to set. I can’t think of many scenes that are more peaceful than that. “Boardwalk” is a bit more upbeat, thinking back to carefree times at the beach and the lazy movement of beach grass swaying in a breeze. “Safe Harbor” has a lightness of spirit that comes when you know you are in a safe place and out of danger - very comforting. “Tides of Change” is another favorite. A little bit livelier than most of the pieces, it has an air of mystery that I love. The melody is strong enough to support lyrics, but the piece is a lot more interesting without them and allows the story to change with the “tide.” As its title suggests, “Smooth Sailing” is graceful and effortless while “Azure Blue” is both peaceful and haunting. “Deep Water” drifts serenely on a shimmering sea without a care in the world, bringing the album to a very pleasant close.

I’d say that just about everyone needs a calming place to escape to from time to time, and By the Sea is perfect for that. If you can’t take a long walk by the ocean, this music is a very suitable substitute! It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
December 23, 2016
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