Across the Water
2010 / Hamsa Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Composer/pianist Eric Chapelle has released Across the Water, the long-awaited follow-up to his 1998 debut, Our Time, and it was well worth the wait! Combining acoustic piano, keyboards, live cello (Julia Cory and Dawn Biaga) and guitar (John Inman), Chapelle has created a masterpiece of tranquil yet complex music that is gentle enough to soothe the soul yet complex and intricate enough to invite repeated listenings that allow the listener to go ever deeper into the music each time. Sometimes ambient and sometimes melodic, the sixteen tracks are varied while sustaining a sublime mood for massage, studying, relaxing, reading, or simply chilling. Composed over the past twelve years, much of Chapelle’s new music was inspired by profound experiences in nature while attending the Norton Island Residency Program in Maine one summer. Deeply emotional on several different levels, the music “evokes the stages of longing, discovery, transformation of many sorts, and all journeys of becoming.” (quoted from the liner notes)
“Every Wish” begins our journey Across the Water. Performed on keyboards, Julia Cory’s cello, and piano, the piece goes right to the soul with the force of its emotional impact. Not a simple daydream, the feelings of yearning and heartache go deep. “First Kiss” is much lighter and more serene with a passionate undertone. A graceful piano solo, it needs no accompaniment to convey its lovely message. “Straight Ahead” is almost buoyant in its light-hearted dance. Performed on keyboards, the instrumentation accentuates the carefree mood. “Soft Landing” brings back Julia Cory’s soulful cello with piano and keyboard washes creating a mood as gentle and dreamy as floating on a cloud. “For Edna” is a lovely piano solo composed in honor of a relative who passed away at the age of 94. Chapelle composed this tribute while looking at photos of “Edna” at different stages of her life. Gorgeous! “Norton Island” is a gently-flowing piano solo that conveys perfect peace and contentment. The title track is a trio for piano, guitar, and cello (Dawn Biaga) - bliss with a slight edge. “Rainmaker” combines ambient keyboard with the sound of gentle rain - so soothing! “Evora Amore” is more ambient than melodic and hints of Middle Eastern influences - hypnotic! I really like “Spaghetti Eastern,” with its rhythmic percussion and tranquil melody - fascinating! “Tide Pool” is an especially beautiful piano solo that depicts the calm clarity of a tide pool contrasted with the rippling water that changes movement at will. Chapelle saves (one of) the best for last with “Wild Iris,” a melancholy, dreamy piano solo recorded in a log cabin on Norton Island.
Eric Chapelle makes a strong comeback with Across the Water. We’ll hope album #3 arrives sooner than twelve years, but if Chapelle’s future music is as good as Our Time and Across the Water, we’ll wait patiently! Across the Water is available from Hamsa Music, Amazon, CD Baby and iTunes. Very highly recommended!
April 6, 2010