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Album Review: Imagine
George Skaroulis
Cover image of the album Imagine by George Skaroulis
George Skaroulis
2009 / Evzone Music
75 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
2009 marks the 13th anniversary of George Skaroulis’ independent label, Evzone Music, and, luckily for us, it also marks the 13th release from the Greek god with the velvet piano touch. Imagine is Skaroulis’ tribute to “all of the songwriters and performers that brought their timeless music to my life, and to yours.” With seventeen mostly solo piano tracks and a sumptuous 75-minute playing time, this album is something of an event! The song selection is mostly songs from the past twenty years or so, but several go back much farther. My only complaint is that there is just one original track, but it’s truly a highlight of the album. George Skaroulis has been one of my favorite artists since I was introduced to his music with “Second Nature” in 2003, and he never disappoints. It is interesting to note that Skaroulis’ music is now the “official” music of the Atlanta Humane Society and that the release party (8/23/09) for this album was also a benefit concert for that organization. I have three feral cats that are often agitated and vocal, but all three are stretched out and dozing peacefully as I write this review. Interesting!

Imagine begins with “I Have a Dream,” an ABBA hit from the late ’70’s. Skaroulis slows it down a bit and adds string washes to his piano - a lovely start! Next up is “It Might Be You” from Tootsie. Warm, elegant, and deeply emotional, Skaroulis breathes new life into this sweet song. “Unchained Melody” has been one of my favorite songs since I first heard Bobby Hatfield sing it in 1965, and George’s solo piano version updates it while remaining true to the original (which was first featured in an obscure 1955 prison film called Unchained). Skaroulis’ own “The Fire Within” is a passionate piano solo that overflows with deep emotion; this piece is worth the price of the CD all by itself. Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is another favorite song and even without the poetry of the lyrics, it really sings. “Both Sides Now” and “Send In the Clowns” are songs whose lyrics have a strong emotional impact, and Skaroulis’ soulful instrumental arrangements wordlessly convey the meanings of the songs. Having seen several Cirque du Soleil performances, it cracks me up that “Let Me Fall” comes from one of their productions. There is nothing funny about this powerful song, though, and Skaroulis captures the compelling drama of the piece - love it! Thomas Albinoni’s “Adagio” is another highlight. A piece that dates back to the 1700’s, the haunting melody is timeless. Skaroulis closes with another timeless classic, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Piano and minimal orchestration express the wistful mood of the song while updating it to the 21st century.

George Skaroulis has created another masterpiece. May his 13th anniversary and 13th album both be lucky and achieve the recognition they so richly deserve! Imagine is available from www.evzonemusic.com. It will be available soon from other online sources. Very highly recommended!
August 21, 2009
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