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Album Review: The Undershore
Catherine Marie Charlton
Cover image of the album The Undershore by Catherine Marie Charlton
The Undershore
Catherine Marie Charlton
2004 / Catherine Marie Charlton
51 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
The Undershore is Catherine Marie Charlton’s fourth album to date, and I think it’s her best. The music is complex enough to be interesting with frequent playings at full attention, and soothing enough to be a very pleasant backdrop for other activities. Most of the compositions are solo piano, but several feature Nikkos on flute and/or J. Jody Janetta on percussion. Some of the music is dark and mysterious, and some is lighter and more joyful. Charlton includes her haunting arrangement of “Shenandoah,” a piece that she has loved since childhood. A passionate pianist with classical roots as well as a background in jazz improvisation, Charlton’s is a strong musical voice. Nikkos’ flute blends with and complements the piano beautifully - a compelling duo.

The title track opens the album - a gorgeous piano solo full of emotion and a big, full sound. “The Lonely Cobbler” is about someone so lost in his work that he forgets about friends offering help. Also a solo, it is a very passionate piece with tricky rhythms and a somewhat melancholy mood. “Moon Twist” begins quietly and includes subtle percussion. Deep and mysterious, the middle section transforms into more of a swirling dance, and then trails off at the end. “Ocean’s Lullaby” is tranquility, with piano, flute and water sounds - pure peace! “River Dawn” is a 4 1/2 minute version of the 60-minute composition that was Charlton’s previous release a couple of years ago. “The Asymptote” is one of the math-inspired pieces that Charlton wrote in college. It refers to a line in math that can be approached, but never reached. On the abstract side, it has a wonderful, sparkling energy. “Edge of Light” is a gorgeous piano and flute duet. Free, and yet structured, I love this one! “Springshine” is a jazzy, upbeat ensemble piece with all three musicians. Light and effervescent, this is joy set to music. The CD closes with “Undershore Flow,” an ensemble version of the opening track.

The Undershore is a great choice for those who want more complexity and depth to their piano music. Samples are available on Amazon and CD Baby, and purchases can be made at those two sites as well as www.catherinemariecharlton.com. Recommended!
December 13, 2004
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