Sweet Dreams and Starlight
by David Nevue is the eighth release from an artist who seems to keep getting better all the time. Nevue’s albums have themes about things going on in his life at various times, and this one celebrates becoming a father after many years of not being sure if he wanted to take that step. Nevue states in the liner notes that he made this recording because he wanted to give his children an album they could call their own. I expected something very light and playful, perhaps including some lullabies; it is so much more than that. The pieces are very gentle, but the emotional depth is amazing. Many of the pieces have a strong sense of wonder, and it seems that they capture the joy of discovery as a child as well as the joy of discovering new places within yourself you didn’t know existed as an adult. As a result, this really isn’t a children’s album at all, but an expression of humanity that anyone can relate to.
The fourteen tracks are all solo piano, and include ten original pieces and four delightful arrangements of favorite tunes. Nevue pays homage to one of his early influences, George Winston, in the title track. The opening melody is simple and heartfelt, beginning in the upper registers of the piano, much like a music box. He repeats the melody, fleshing it out, and brings in a middle section that sounds very much like a Winston passage; a reprise of the melody closes the song with a sigh. A great beginning, and one of Nevue’s best pieces ever. His arrangement of “Greensleeves” is sweet and simple, with a wonderful gentle flow. “The Moment Everything Changed” is almost a lullaby - very quiet, with a sense of wonder. “Jesus Loves Me” is truly a classic children’s hymn, and Nevue’s theme and variations approach to it is lovely, keeping it warm and childlike. “Song For Noelle” is a charming, tender ballad for Nevue’s daughter. Quiet enough to be a lullaby, the loving emotions flow through. One of the surprises is a great arrangement of The Turtles’ “Happy Together.” Nevue gives it a semi-classical approach that works really well. I’ve always loved this song, and Nevue’s version made me realize how strong it is musically. In the liner notes, Nevue writes about how much he loved looking at the stars as a child and how, as he got older, he got too busy to remember to do so. One of the first words Nathan learned was “star,” and his discovery of a starry sky has brought ”Daddy” full-circle to loving to look up again; “Ursa Minor” has a gentle, twinkling quality that describes a night sky. My favorite track is “Taking Flight,” which has a graceful, rolling left hand that gives it momentum, and a melody that suggests excitement and anticipation. I hope this will be available in sheet music soon! “Across the Velvet Sea” is kind of a dark, dreamy waltz. “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” is another theme and variations, and is totally charming in its innocence and wonder. “The Face of the Deep” is a bit more mysterious, but is tranquil and calm.
Sweet Dreams and Starlight
is one of my favorite albums so far this year. It is available from davidnevue.com
and www.amazon.com. Very highly recommended!