Favorite Icon, Full size
Album Review: Keys of Light
Dan Chadburn
Cover image of the album Keys of Light by Dan Chadburn
Keys of Light
Dan Chadburn
2015 / Daniel Chadburn
56 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Keys of Light is pianist/composer Dan Chadburn’s fifth album, following his 2013 Whispers the Falling Snow, which was nominated for the 2014 ZMR Best Piano Album of the Year award and the 2015 One World Music award for Best Solo Piano Album. A classically-trained pianist from an early age, Chadburn made his recording debut in 1998 with the simply titled solo piano (an album I still dearly love) closely followed by the more orchestrated Reflections in 1999. Then there was a long break between albums until Dan’s welcome return with Nocturnes in 2012. Most of the twelve tracks on Keys of Light have orchestration in addition to the piano, and eleven are original compositions, the exception being a beautiful arrangement/improvisation on James Pankow’s classic ballad, “Colour My World.” Dan recently performed several of the pieces from the album in a solo piano house concert here, and his passionate performance was mesmerizing - something a recording can never fully capture. However, the magic of that performance is very much in evidence here.

The music for Keys of Light was written to celebrate friendship and to honor the memories of those who have touched Chadburn’s life and the lives of others in profound ways. Each piece is composed in a different key, “symbolic of the unique opportunity we each have to bring light to this world.” Love, passion and tenderness overflow from the music which is heartfelt, elegant, and breathtakingly beautiful. Each of the pieces has its own special meaning, and yet the album flows together as a cohesive and deeply satisfying musical experience.

Two of the most affecting pieces, “Tyler’s Tribute” and “Matthew,” were composed in memory of two young men who became the victims of the violence against and cyber-bullying of gay men. Tragedy, grief and deep emotion are expressed in each note, touching the soul in a way that words alone can never do. But all is not dark and painful! “My Irish Love” is a glowing and poignant love song written for Dan’s husband, Tom, and “With You Always” is a love song to Dan’s parents who have been married for more than sixty years and obviously adore their son! “Diamond in the Sky” was composed for Dan and Tom’s beautiful dog, Kya, the evening she “crossed the rainbow bridge.” (I recently lost a dog I’d had for more than sixteen years, so this one really touches my heart.) The title track, radiates a peaceful calm and gentle warmth with strings, oboe, and piano. “Tacoma Morning” was written as a tribute to Dan’s piano professor and mentor - a gracefully flowing and deeply-felt piano solo that pays homage to a major influence in his life.

Keys of Light is the third consecutive stellar release from Dan Chadburn, an exceptionally gifted artist who creates and lives from his heart. It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!
August 10, 2015