1997 / Gouldworks
Review by Kathy Parsons
This first effort by Evan Gould is a charmer from beginning to end. His sweet honesty and gentle touch on the piano keys are consistent throughout and make you believe he must be one heck of a nice guy. There is nothing pretentious about Gould’s playing or composing style - a fellow staffer referred to this album as “sweet vignettes”, which seems perfect. Most of the songs have a very optimistic feel to them, but there are also passion and longing (“It Always Comes Back to You”, “Once in Awhile”, and “Deep Within”). The innocence of “First Embrace” and “A Child’s Dream” are almost breath-taking.
The album opens with the title cut, which could be a love song to a long-time love or a child or perhaps even a parent. The sincerity and warmth envelop like a loving hug - someone is opening his heart here. The gentle honesty of “It Always Comes Back to You” sweeps you into its spell - this is not about teenagers making out in a car, but about a long and ever-deepening love relationship - gentle, strong, and ever so sweet. “First Embrace” is open and innocent, and sounds a little like an easy piece Mozart might compose were he living now. “Taken Back” has a very joyous and uplifting quality to it, but there are still poignant moments - a crisis has passed perhaps? “An Ending Rain” is a return to the gentle simplicity of the earlier tracks - no harshness or jagged edges. “Restless” seems to be searching for answers rather than pacing the floors. My favorite track is “A Child’s Dream” - pure tenderness and such an abundance of love. One knows from this piece that Evan Gould must be a devoted dad. “In the Park” sings of a perfect spring day. “Summer Inspiration” is another favorite, and reminds me very much of Wayne Gratz, as do several other songs. This piece has a questioning quality and a sense of hurt, but still an optimism for the outcome. “Once in Awhile” seems almost a soliloquy - speaking directly and without any pretense: “this how it is”; the second half of the piece evolves into “how I wish it was”. “Deep Within” is the most complex of the pieces on this album, with several movements that blend into each other - again, the honesty and heartfelt emotions can almost make you blush. Joy, pain, love, optimism, passion, and life are what this and all of the pieces are about. With such an influx of commercially-made recordings that are manufactured for effect rather than artistry, As Always is a breath of fresh air. There are no pianistic pyrotechnics here, but Evan Gould’s candor and generosity of spirit make this a very special album. That he has been composing for only two years is amazing!
January 8, 1998