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Album Review: To See You Again
Cathy Oakes
Cover image of the album To See You Again by Cathy Oakes
To See You Again
Cathy Oakes
2013 / Sierra Keys Music
51 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
To See You Again is the third solo piano release from Cathy Oakes, following her 2012 debut, Like a Song, and her 2012 Christmas album, Let There Be Joy. Oakes started playing the piano at the age of six and continued her music studies through college and beyond. The pastor of three churches in western Tennessee, she spent more than twenty years in music ministry and taught piano and voice for nearly thirty years. Much of To See You Again was composed in honor of friends and family members who have recently passed on, but this is not a sad or mournful album. Inspiration also came from various life experiences and her faith. I had the pleasure of having Cathy Oakes perform a house concert here last year, and found her to be a very warm, articulate person with an incredible sense of humor, and those qualities come through in her music. Recorded at Joe Bongiorno’s Piano Haven Studio on his Shigeru Kawai concert grand piano, the sound quality is perfection.

To See You Again begins with “When I Am Afraid,” a piece written during a particularly difficult time with one of Oakes’ children. The melody is almost conversational, making me think of fervent prayer and the calm that can come from placing trust in God to handle matters. “A Sixth Sense” is a beautiful love song that conveys passion and grace. Oakes composed the right hand almost entirely in parallel sixths, giving the title a double-meaning. The title track was composed at the piano as Oakes processed the loss of a dear friend. Tender and sad yet incredibly beautiful, this is definitely a favorite. I also love “Cheryl’s Legacy,” composed in honor of a friend who spent every day thinking of ways to show love for her friends and family. Overflowing with grace and affection, this piece has a hymn-like quality the is both touching and comforting. “The Tempest” expresses an entirely different set of emotions. Dark and full of turmoil, it also suggests what a source of sanity the piano can be when emotions are in an overwhelming state of chaos - an unwavering friend who can take whatever you need to express. “Variations On a Daydream” is sweet simplicity with a canon-style melody that uses only four notes and creates a warm, dreamy mood. “Dance of Remembrance” celebrates enduring the difficulties of the past and emerging stronger and wiser for them. A mix of emotions is expressed, and although the thoughts are celebratory, the music itself is subdued and thoughtful. Oakes calls “In the Key of Lost” a musical spoof where she intentionally broke every rule of modulation that she learned in music theory classes. Light and playful, it expresses the fun of breaking time-worn rules! “Bittersweet” is another favorite, poignantly expressing the sadness that comes when happy occasions must end. “What a Friend” is Oakes’ lovely arrangement of “What A Friend We Have in Jesus.” While adding many personal touches, she remains faithful to this favorite hymn. Appropriately, Oakes closes the album with “A Prayer,” a beautiful arrangement of the first song she ever wrote, back in 1978.

To See You Again is a wonderfully heartfelt third effort from Cathy Oakes and is available from cathyoakessolopiano.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!!!
October 13, 2013