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Album Review: Calm Seas
Craig Urquhart
Cover image of the album Calm Seas by Craig Urquhart
Calm Seas
Craig Urquhart
2016 / Heart Earth Music
58 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Calm Seas is the tenth album by pianist/composer Craig Urquhart and contains thirteen original piano solos that are warm, gentle and introspective. With a cursory listen, the music (like all of Urquhart’s music) sounds very simple, but while there might not be an overabundance of black dots on the pages, I defy anyone to duplicate the soulful, honest, and heartfelt expression Urquhart pours into every note and chord. That’s where the magic lies, and that’s why this music is not best-suited for background ambiance. It works fine in that role, but - and this is a very big BUT - Urquhart expresses so much in his music that when you really listen, you come away feeling that you have gotten to know him rather well - and have perhaps also seen a new facet of your own soul. I have reviewed all of Urquhart’s albums over the years, and it is always a very special experience to be reminded of the power of quiet beauty and simplicity. I have always loved his Streamwalker album, but Calm Seas is starting to eclipse that one as my favorite. Urquhart splits his time between Germany and New York City, and the gorgeous cover artwork is of either a sunrise or sunset over the waters of Heiligendamm, Germany - a perfect example of “calm seas.” I should mention that there is a companion sheet music book available as well as PDF downloads of the individual pieces, available from www.CraigUrquhart.com.

The album begins with the title track, a gently rhythmic ebb and flow that sets the tone for the rest of the album. “North Star” is a favorite. The left hand broken chords create a tranquil base for the poignant melody - so beautiful! “Waltz” is a graceful minor-key dance with a somewhat mysterious flavor. “Wellfleet Winter” is another favorite. With almost eight minutes to tell its story, serene images of the stillness and sparkle of a snow-covered landscape arise from Urquhart’s delicate touch on the piano keys. “Green Mountain” is a bit livelier but is just as peaceful. This one sounds much like the rebirth that is spring and evokes images of that lush green that only appears with new growth. “Night Thoughts” begins in the deep bass of the piano - dark and a little bit ominous. Much like the random thoughts that can occur during a sleepless night, some of the passages are lighter and some are very dark - an effective and haunting piece! “Fair Wind” is much lighter, like a delicate spring breeze. “Day Dreaming” is as calm and peaceful as, well, a daydream, making it easy to imagine lying on a grassy hillside or in a meadow of wildflowers, soaking up the warm sunshine and drifting off to wherever your mind takes you. “Grace” and “Blue Skies” continue the daydream in their own ways, bringing this wonderful album to a blissful close and leaving the listener refreshed and comforted. Thank you, Craig Urquhart!

Calm Seas will most likely be one of my favorite albums of the year - such a breath of fresh air amid all the turbulence of recent months. It is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!
November 14, 2016
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