Keys to the Soul
2005 / Fletcher Harris
Review by Kathy Parsons
Keys to the Soul is Fletcher Harris’ second solo piano album, following his 2004 debut, “Music From the Heart.” As the title implies, the music is mostly reflective and deeply personal. Harris describes the origins of each of the fourteen original pieces in the liner notes, letting us get to know him and the music a little better. He has also included his popular arrangement of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as a bonus track. Sadly, this CD was scheduled to be delivered to Harris’ home the end of last August, when they were evacuated due to Hurricane Katrina. Fortunately, the Louisiana native’s home wasn’t totally destroyed. I can’t help but wonder what the music will be like on his next album, having endured an experience like that. Anyway, back to the CD at hand, a lovely collection of charming and good-natured piano solos to touch the heart and brighten anyone’s day.
The CD begins with “Auntie’s Song,” a sweetly sentimental piece with a gently flowing grace. “It Was New At the Time” can be interpreted in a number of ways, but the feeling is reflective and bittersweet - a very beautiful piece. “Over You” is one of my favorites. Both elegant and deeply emotional, it has several shifts in the time signature (or is it just rubato?) that keep you guessing where the rhythm is going to go next. It feels slightly off-balance in parts, but in a very good way. “Soaring Over Dublin” envisions a large bird “soaring and diving with great freedom.” Anyone who has watched large birds in flight can be transported back to that experience listening to this piece. “Hidden In Plain Sight” is another favorite. Somewhat darker and more mysterious, the melody is poignant and compelling. Love it! “Floating” is more ambient, picturing a feather caught in the wind and gently rising and falling with the changing breezes - pure musical peace! I also really like “Undecided,” which is a bit bigger and more upbeat. Although the title comes from not being about to choose a specific title for the piece, there is still a feeling of anxiousness and of searching for an answer - not troubled, just energized. “The Waltz” has a more classical style and suggests a ballroom from the past with elegantly-dressed people dancing to the music. This is one of those pieces that make my fingers itch to play it! Harris’ arrangement of “Over the Rainbow” is a touching conclusion to an excellent album.
Keys to the Soul is available from cdbaby.com. Recommended!
April 10, 2006