David J. Peña
2023 / Wild and Free
Review by Kathy Parsons
Zero Gravity is the fourth album from multiple award-winning composer and multi-instrumentalist David J. Peña. The ten instrumental tracks are piano-based with mostly string orchestrations, creating soundtracks for film scenes Peña imagined as he composed the music. (If you are interested in more information about these scenes, David has a section on his website called "Composer's Thoughts" for each of his albums.) Movie soundtracks are often very emotional and David's music supplies plenty of that. Sometimes warm and romantic, and sometimes heartbreaking, he takes us on quite a visual musical journey to other times, places (even outer space!) and experiences. Overflowing with faith and positivity, it's a journey worth taking many, many times!
Zero Gravity begins with the title track, a piece about an astronaut's first trip into space and his feelings of awe as he sees the world, stars and galaxies in way he never expected. Feelings of floating as well as wonder make this an excellent starting track! Peña pictured life as an "Hour Glass" for the piece with that title. Much of the drama in life is in choosing what to do with our time on earth and then living with our choices - or changing them. Peña expresses all of that in music with an element of mystery as well as drama and hope. I really like this one! "Dreams We Shared" has a very simple melody that is deeply expressive. Warm, fragile and bittersweet it's a beautiful piece that would work in many kinds of emotional scenes and situations. "Renewed" is about the turning points in life when strength and a sense of direction return and point the way to a more meaningful existence. The cellos are especially effective on this one! "Childhood Memories" reflects on the happy moments of early life and the love of a close-knit family. Poignant and deeply evocative, it's a beauty! The story behind "Forgiven" is rather long and complex, so I'll just say that the music goes through a variety of changes as the story progresses, reflecting the emotional complexity of turning against loved ones, later having an epiphany of sorts, and then needing to ask for forgiveness. It's a wonderful musical expression of a complicated situation and the emotional agony that can be part of that - my favorite track on the album. "Day Dream" is light and fanciful, as a daydream should be! It makes me think of sunshine and a bright blue sky with a gentle breeze blowing through a field of flowers. Ahhhh! David Peña pictured "Awaiting Your Return" as being set during the Civil War era, but it would fit in beautifully into any time period and any situation when someone is deeply missed and longed for. The piece ends with an emotional and powerful reunion - a very happy ending for a fascinating album!
Zero Gravity is available from streaming sites such as Soundcloud, Apple Music/iTunes and Spotify. It is also available to stream or download from Amazon.
October 4, 2023