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Album Review: The Space Between
Chad Lawson
Cover image of the album The Space Between by Chad Lawson
The Space Between
Chad Lawson
2013 / Hillset Records
49 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
After three highly-acclaimed and award-winning solo piano CDs (plus two improvised EPs and recordings with his Trio), Chad Lawson decided to shake things up a bit and do something different. The Space Between is still mostly solo piano and the composing style is classic Lawson, but the approach to recording this one was new - seeking to capture the actual sound of the piano including its inner workings and occasional creaks. At first listen, I thought perhaps it was a digital piano with a high reverb setting, but I know Chad better than that. Then I thought maybe he was keeping his foot on the pedal much longer than usual. So I asked him, and it turns out that he was experimenting with putting a long strip of felt between the piano hammers and the strings, softening the normally percussive sound of the hammers striking the strings and allowing some of the sounds of the piano’s action, the keys being depressed, etc. to come through. Most of these sounds are subtle and create a very interesting effect coupled with Lawson’s velvet piano touch and shimmering composing style. I wasn’t sure I liked the piano sound at first, but I’ve come to love and appreciate its softened tone. When listening to this album, it is very important to give the music some time and an understanding of what Lawson was doing. He is joined on a few of the tracks by Rubin Kodheli on cello and James Duke on guitar. The cello especially adds its own special magic to the sound. Of the ten tracks, eight are originals plus Lawson’s gorgeous arrangements of “Ave Maria” and Band of Horses’ “No One’s Gonna Love You.”

The music on The Space Between originated with an invitation to score a short film that tells the Bible story of Abraham and Isaac (vimeo.com/62992476). After meeting with the director, Lawson composed “Father Abraham,” a quiet but extremely powerful piece. Feeling tremendously inspired, Lawson composed most of the rest of the album in one day and recorded those eight pieces in one session. The two pieces not composed in that burst of creative energy are “Heart in Hand,” written for another indie film, and “A Love is Born,” composed for a different project. Lawson went on to tell me, “With this album, either people are going to love it or they're going to hate it.... It's a risk I took but I have to be honest with myself and what I create and for me, this is the most honest music I have ever been given. Every note I play is that of worship and returning to the Father above (Christ) and if I were to change my intention or direction and create something for man, it would just fall flat. So, I played what was on my heart, and here we have it.”

Intrigued? I hope so, as The Space Between will be generating a lot of musical buzz! It is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Very highly recommended for those with a sense of musical adventure and an openness to hearing the piano in a new way!
July 13, 2013
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Kathy's Favorites: 2013