Painting the Sun
2008 / Shanachie
Review by Michael Debbage
Just when you thought you had adjusted to the new mystic musical collaborations of David Lanz and Gary Stroutsos another curve ball comes your way. Once again David changes his musical landscape and harkens a return to the effortless but rich solo piano performances one has come to expect from Lanz. Painting the Sun simply put adds to one of the many masterpieces created by this humble legend.
With brother Gary Lanz assisting David behind the production board, the sound is complimented by the stunning front cover artwork of Painting the Sun. This time around, rather than releasing the album via his own label or his website, the veteran label Shanachie is given the task to distribute his latest epic to the general public. There are no embellishments or additional musicians and instead merely David Lanz and his Yamaha C7-F11 Acoustic Grand Piano. It is the unadulterated pure piano performances that Lanz is so capable of creating and with the exception of the cover interpretation of “Turn Turn Turn” the songs are all self composed.
The album begins with three sweet melancholy compositions in a row that have all the ingredients of the graceful reserved performances found on his 1988 smash Cristofori’s Dream. In addition, “Her Solitude” flows with a soft sense of ceremonial regality to it, later matched by the refined and charming “Hymn”. Countered with the flirtatious snowfall dance of “First Snow” by now the album gives you a sense that there is something very special in the air. Though the song begs an ambient atmospheric guitar performance from Paul Speer alas it was not to be. Nevertheless with or without Paul Speer, “First Snow” is one of the stronger “sunrays” of Painting the Sun. That style is also revisited by the closer, “Sleeping Dove” concluding another gem of an album that seems to be consistently attached to the name David Lanz.
It has been twenty five years since the general listening public was exposed to the musical tapestry of David Lanz courtesy of his 1983 debut Heartsounds. Since then David Lanz has explored several musical genres and despite his wanderlust he has always created beautiful musical landscapes. After adapting to the recent musical adventures with Stroutsos, the change in gears was a bit of a surprise. Nevertheless, Painting the Sun is an exceptional creation that shows no signs that the sun is setting on the musical horizons of this highly prolific and picturesque legendary pianist.
August 8, 2008
Review by Michael Debbage