Dancing With the Moon
2019 / Heron's Point Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
I have reviewed all of Carolyn Southworth’s albums since her 2006 debut, At the End of the Day, but I was still not prepared for the dazzling variety of musical styles on her latest, Dancing With the Moon. A longtime piano and violin teacher as well as a very accomplished musician and composer, Carolyn has always brought a special kind of magic to her music. The fifteen tracks on this album also clearly demonstrate how versatile she is: “There is a wide variety on this CD, because I love to play all kinds of music, not just one style. I’m hoping that there will be something for everyone to enjoy.” Oh yeah, I think so! The individual tracks were released as singles over the course of the year, but the album also plays wonderfully well as a whole entity. In addition to piano, Carolyn played violin on one track plus synth and orchestration. Guest artists include Paul Speer (formerly half of David Lanz and Paul Speer) on guitar as well as mixing and mastering, Max Saidi on drums and percussion, and Heath Vercher who did much of the orchestration. From contemporary classical to jazzy to Celtic to a little bit rock ’n’ roll, I would put this album up there as one of the best of 2019.
Dancing With the Moon opens with “Vermillion Sky,” an easy slow dance with a gently swaying rhythm. Dreamy, relaxed and full of wonder, it gets the album off to a great start! “A Sky Full of Stars” also expresses a sense of wonder as well as vast openness, majesty and feelings of serenity. I love “After Midnight,” which is dark, mysterious and a little bit funky. A strong beat supports a hypnotic conversation between Carolyn’s jazzy piano and Speer’s very distinctive guitar. Great stuff! The title track features Kelley Marie Johnson on violin and is a graceful waltz that becomes fully orchestrated as it evolves - elegant and very beautiful! I heard Carolyn’s arrangement of “Scarborough Fair” a couple of times before I recognized what it was. Celtic instruments as well as piano and drums/percussion combine to put a fresh spin on this traditional classic. There are two versions of the song, “Twilight” on the album, one with vocals and one without - both are warm and peaceful. “Undercurrent” is another favorite with its lively tempo and optimistic feel. “City Lights” takes a surprising (but wonderful!) detour to a bluesy style with an infectious swing rhythm. Paul Speer’s guitar sends it soaring it to the moon and back - love it! I also love the sultry “Summer Rain” and its slow groove. “If You Could Hie to Kolob” is a beautiful LDS hymn that is fully orchestrated. (Kolob is a star or planet described in the Book of Abraham, a sacred text of the Mormon faith.)
Dancing With the Moon is a joy from the first note to the last and is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby, plus streaming sites.
December 11, 2019