2014 / The Boxhouse Music Company
Review by Kathy Parsons
Infinite Beauty is pianist/composer Donovan Johnson’s fifth release to date. Most of Johnson’s earlier recordings are piano and keyboard mixes, but this one is all solo piano and I think it’s his strongest work yet. Classically-trained from a very early age, Johnson is an exceptionally versatile performer who is comfortable playing a wide range of music genres and styles that include new age, pop and country, jazz, hymns, ragtime and improvisation. Infinite Beauty was often inspired by and is dedicated to Johnson’s young son, Leif, and is a reflection on the many life changes that have occurred in Johnson’s life over the past couple of years. Some of the fifteen original pieces are bright and upbeat while others are more thoughtful, introspective and even melancholy. It’s a beautiful collection and a very personal one. I was fortunate to be able to see Johnson play several of these pieces live recently, and very highly recommend his concert appearances.
Infinite Beauty begins with the title track, a buoyant, swirling piece that dances for joy all over the piano keyboard and immediately lets listeners know that Donovan Johnson really knows what he’s doing! There are gospel and country touches added here and there, making this a very dynamic opening. “Fortitude” is much more somber and almost hymn-like. The strong, lyrical melody tells its story without words, communicating from one heart to another. This is one of several favorites! “Infinite Life” feels free and spontaneous - quiet reflection at the piano. “The Drive” is a bit jazzier and in constant rhythmic motion - also very free and spontaneous with a powerful bass line. “Morning Coffee With Grandma” has a gentle, loving, moment-from-life feeling that conveys a wistful, dreamy mood - peaceful and contented. “Green Pastures, Still Waters” returns to a slow gospel style that Johnson does so well - I really like this one, too! “Forsaken Hour” goes very deep and very dark - my favorite track on the album. This one feels like it could have been composed late at night, looking within and letting the music flow freely. Gorgeous! “Redemption” is much lighter and more upbeat. “Nightfall,” a peaceful nocturne, could also serve as a beautiful lullaby. “Infinite Birth” rejoices with passion and love. “Midwestern Hoedown” is a happy surprise with a strong, rhythmic bass under a joyful and lively melody. “Epiphany” ends the album with a dynamic meditation that ranges from dark and reflective to bright and optimistic. Jazz, blues, and a variety of other stylings make this an impressive closing piece.
Strongly recommended, Infinite Beauty is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby.
Check it out!
April 13, 2014