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Album Review: Lantern
Dan Kennedy
Cover image of the album Lantern by Dan Kennedy
Dan Kennedy
2007 / Dan Kennedy
19 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Lantern is pianist/composer Dan Kennedy’s debut CD. The 19 1/2-minute, four-song CD was produced by the legendary Will Ackerman at his Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont. Recorded on the studio’s Steinway Model B grand piano, the CD also features Glen Velez on percussion, T-Bone Wolk on bass, and vocal colors by Samite and Noah Wilding. Kennedy is on the Theory and Composition faculty of Westfield (MA) State College and has had five chamber works published by Dorn Publications. Largely self-taught, Kennedy studied classical and jazz piano and blends those two styles exceptionally well. The music on Lantern is a deeply heartfelt exploration of the balancing of energy and stillness, and this juxtaposition works well musically. The music has a sense of movement and aliveness, yet it looks inward and conveys a feeling of serenity. The four pieces are quite different from each other, giving us a look at various styles of Kennedy’s compositions.

“Dulcimer in G” is the liveliest of the four tracks, with piano, percussion, and wordless vocals. Enthusiasm and excitement flow through the piece like an electrical current, but the subtle voices keep it grounded. A joyful, swirling dance, this is a great introduction! “Ballad” is much quieter and more introspective. By definition, a ballad is a piece that tells a story, and this one seems to be one of sadness and loss or hurt, told as a late-night soliloquy for solo piano. “Dear Girl” is also solo piano and is composed in two themes that make interesting use of grace notes. They form their own repeating pattern or theme that’s a little bit “folkie” (a la George Winston or Philip Aaberg) and a little bit jazzy - an intriguing piece! “Cycle,” begins with just the piano, evolving into an ensemble for piano and voice. Sometimes quite energetic, sometimes calmer and more pensive, it illustrates the changes as well as the repetitions in various cycles of life and nature - a beauty!

Lantern is a fresh and fascinating introduction to Dan Kennedy’s music that definitely leaves the listener wanting more. It’s a real bargain at $5.99, so check it out at dankennedy.us, CD Baby, and iTunes. I can’t wait to see and hear what comes next!
February 26, 2008
This review has been tagged as:
Debut Albums