Follow Your Heart
2018 / Eric Bikales
Review by Kathy Parsons
Eric Bikales’ Follow Your Heart is a truly exceptional solo piano album and one that will not fit neatly into any music category. Nine of the twelve tracks are remastered from Bikales’ 2013 release by the same name, and the other three are more recent compositions. The Kansas City native grew up in a very musical family and was able to pick out Ravel’s “Bolero” at the age of six. He also studied the flute and won a competition at the age of 11 to play ten concerts as guest soloist with the Kansas City Philharmonic. Bikales started composing music for fun in middle school and since then, there isn’t much he hasn’t done in the music field. He has toured with some of the biggest names in show biz and has written music for a very impressive list of television shows and films. He has been inducted into both the Kansas City and MPS Halls of Fame. He has authored and teaches several online music courses for the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and teaches privately as well. Bikales’ mission throughout his career has been to provide relief from the stress of daily life and to give his listeners a chance at joyful discovery through the medium of music.
Although Follow Your Heart is being promoted as a “solo piano/new age” album, quite a few of the pieces have a strong jazz influence - a little blues and gospel here and there - but what is really remarkable about the album is the easy mastery and versatility Bikales has with his instrument. There seem to be threads of good humor and contentment running through the music that just make you feel good.
Follow Your Heart begins with “Clockwork,” one of the newer pieces. The easy-going groove sets the relaxed mood of the album while establishing that this is no “ear candy”! “Maybe Yes Maybe No” feels like a slow blues ballad infused with a bit of soulful magic. I love this one! The title track has a melody strong enough to support lyrics (although I’m glad it’s a “song without words”!) and those lyrics would be about being true to yourself and your dreams. “The Closer You Get” is another favorite with its gentle down-home rhythm and uncomplicated melody (this one reminds me of some of my favorite Joseph Akins tunes). “Someway Someday” is a happy daydream set to music. “Fabulous Island” paints a joyful picture of a wonderful place to be. Upbeat and sparkling, I want to go there! “Mysterier” is on the spooky side, but in a fun, playful way. (I’ll bet this one is fun to play!) The effusive “Franklin Jubilee” will have your toes tapping in no time! Overflowing with energetic fun, you can almost hear the piano keys laughing! The album closes with the beautiful “The Saint,” a newer piece that expresses tenderness and perhaps gratitude that come from the heart - a sweet ending to a great album!
I am really looking forward to hearing more music by Eric Bikales. I’m sure I’ve heard it many times on TV or in movies, but it’s such a treat to listen to his music for its own sake! Follow Your Heart is available from Amazon and iTunes. Very highly recommended!
August 7, 2018