You Finally Knew
2020 / Decca
Review by Kathy Parsons
I first discovered Chad Lawson’s music in 2009 when he released his debut solo piano album, Set On a Hill, and I instantly fell in love. That album went on to win the Whisperings Solo Piano Radio “Album of the Year” award. Two years later, Chad played a house concert in my home in Oregon with a couple of other Whisperings artists, and his incredibly expressive touch on the piano keys literally stopped me in my tracks. In many ways, Chad is a pianist’s pianist, but his music is so heartfelt and accessible that it also resonates with many people with less musical experience. Extensively trained in both classical music and jazz, Chad Lawson is that rare artist who has a sound all his own. He has released quite a number of albums on “indie” labels, but recently signed with Decca Records, which will give his music the much broader audience it so deserves.
Four of the ten original piano solos on You Finally Knew were released as singles earlier this year, and five tracks were released as an EP called Stay in May 2020. Recorded at the famous Abbey Road Studios (where The Beatles recorded much of their music), “You Finally Knew is an invitation of self-reflection beckoning us to pause and look inside ourselves, to see what makes each of us uniquely us. It is becoming increasingly difficult to be honest with ourselves as we unintentionally set aside even the smallest life-giving activities to address everyday obligations.” (quoting Chad Lawson) “I’ve been studying a lot about the marriage of mental health and music and their effect on each other. What is fascinating to learn is that studies show there’s a chemical breakdown inside of us when we listen to calming music, even just for 3 – 5 minutes. That physically elevates our mood.”
The album begins with “What Gorgeous Thing,” a poignant, heartfelt piece that indicates the influence of Chopin’s music without trying to imitate it. So spare and yet so powerful! Lawson explains the inspiration for “Stay”: It is about “finding those times that are fleeting but buffer the soul and you think: I don’t want this moment to end.” Chad’s velvety piano touch is very present in the wistful, dreamy melody of “One Day You Finally Knew,” soothing away the cares and worries of our present time for a welcome, if brief, respite. “Waltz in B Minor” is slow, graceful and very expressive. “Across the Distance” has a very dreamy and ethereal feel. I don’t think there is another instrument that expresses the various kinds of rain nearly as well as the piano does (except the rain stick), and the track called “Rain” is very gentle and refreshing. “Ballade in A Minor” is a favorite. By definition, a ballade tells a story with or without words, and this one is passionate, melancholy and deeply emotional - gorgeous! “She Dreams of Time” lightens the mood considerably in a gently optimistic sort of way. “In the Waiting” feels much like the way your mind wanders in different directions as you wait for something or somebody - relaxed, but just a bit unsettled. It also very “in the moment” and improvised - another beauty! I love “Prelude in D Major”! It was created in a very classical style but with contemporary sensibilities and deeply personal expression - a fantastic closing for a fantastic album!
You Finally Knew is available as a CD, an LP (vinyl), a download and to stream from places like Amazon, iTunes/Apple Music and Spotify. There is sheet music for a few of the pieces on Chad’s website. Very highly recommended!
November 10, 2020