David J. Peña
2023 / Wild and Free
Review by Kathy Parsons
The Journey is the third album from David J. Peña, a composer and multi-instrumentalist from Texas. Both of Peña's previous albums, Thinking of You (2020) and Winds of Change (2021), were nominated for Best Piano With Instrumentation awards by One World Music Radio and Winds of Change held the #1 spot on the OWMR charts for two months. Thinking of You was also nominated as Best Neo-Classical Album by Zone Music Reporter. The ten tracks on The Journey are piano-based original compositions that are orchestrated (mostly with strings arranged by Judah Earl) to create something of a soundtrack for the ups and downs of life. Peña explains:
"As you go through life, you often experience emotional highs and lows of life’s circumstances. The Journey captures a sliver of those emotions that are often thrown our way. As I worked on this project, I wanted to encapsulate a range of emotions of my personal life’s journey. My hope is that this album will move you emotionally and provide you a glimpse into your personal life’s Journey. Enjoy!"
The Journey begins with "The Sun Will Rise Again," a piece inspired by David's daughter's difficult journey through a divorce to a place where she felt hope again. The music seems to start at the point where hope returns and life just keeps getting better - a lovely and loving piece! The bright and lively "Kaleidoscope" is a "feel good" piece that expresses the beauty of the moving colors inside this fascinating device - sure to bring a smile! "Tribute to West Texas Pianist Doug Smith" is a wonderful tribute to a fellow Texas pianist who rolled his truck into a ditch late at night in 2007 and broke his neck, becoming a quadriplegic. He was eventually able to play the piano again, but passed away in 2016. This touching and heartfelt piece was inspired by his story. "You Took My Heart With You" is about devastating loss. Inspired by an imaginary movie, the emotions expressed in the piece are vivid and deeply felt - a favorite! The title track also comes from an imaginary movie, this time about a WW2 soldier on his way home after experiencing two years of war. Dramatic and very powerful, I really like this one, too! "Eerie Night" has a huge emotional impact and is both mysterious and tragically sad - my favorite track on the album! From the depths of despair we go to the upbeat and sunny "Good Feeling," which almost dances across my desk! "Star Gazing" is peaceful and sweetly romantic. "New Beginnings" beautifully expresses feelings of optimism and a fresh start. Peña says he pictured "Breakout" as a "high energy action scene song," and so it is! Drums (Paul Michael Pineda) and electric guitar (Greg Hill) join the piano and strings and take the music to a peak of excitement and drama - a great closing to a great album!
The Journey is currently available from Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites such as Spotify. Highly recommended!
December 29, 2022