Silhouettes of Love
David Lanz and Kristin Amarie
2015 / DKL
Review by Kathy Parsons
Silhouettes of Love is the second full-length collaboration by David Lanz and Kristin Amarie following 2014’s Forever Christmas. Let me just say upfront that there are no solo piano tracks on this album, leaving no doubt that Lanz has moved into a different direction from his long career as one of the most popular and influential pianists of recent decades. Lanz started his music career as a singer-songwriter and a few of his solo albums included vocals, but he doesn’t do any singing on this album. His piano is the main accompaniment to Amarie’s vocals, but is, for the most part, in the background. Other instrumentalists rounding out the production include Charlie Bisharat on violin (always a treat!), Keith Lowe on bass, Gregg Karukas on keyboards and programming, Brian Kilgore on percussion, and Peter White, Ramon Stagnaro and Alex Salzman on guitars. Lanz and Amarie wrote the music and lyrics to the thirteen tracks, all of which are love songs. Amarie’s voice is beyond beautiful and expressive, but I have to admit that I feel a strong sense of loss for Lanz’s solo piano music, which has been some of my favorite music since the late 1980’s and a staple in my teaching repertoire. It’s interesting to note that, until recently, new age music rarely included lyrics, but that seems to be changing, further blurring the lines between new age, pop, and smooth jazz.
The album begins with “The Soaring Heart,” a mostly instrumental piece that features Lanz and Bisharat with Amarie’s voice adding passionate colors without lyrics. Warm, buoyant, and joyful, it’s a beautiful start. “The Promise” is one of my favorites on the album at least in part because the lyrics sound like someone who has experienced many of life’s ups and downs. The haunting melody is made even more exquisite with the blending of the vocals, piano and violin. “Falling” is almost classic Lanz with piano, light percussion, guitars, bass and violin. Like the opening track, the sound of Amarie’s voice is more effective than any lyrics, so this one almost counts as an instrumental - also a favorite. The title track is a tender love song with an easy smooth jazz vibe. “Amore Eterno Redux” is a fully orchestrated instrumental version of the haunting Latin-tinged song that appeared on Amarie’s debut, Notes From a Journey. This time the piano gets to soar! “Beatrice and Dante” also appeared on Amarie’s first album as “Fra Beatrice,” a gorgeous song that overflows with longing; as did “Silver Threads (Without You).” These new arrangements are fuller and give Lanz’s piano a more prominent role.
Silhouettes of Love is a very beautiful collection of love songs, and it will be interesting to see if David Lanz’s international fan base will embrace his new musical direction; Kristin Amarie is definitely a rising star. The album is available from both of their websites as well as Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Check it out!
December 14, 2015