2013 / Evzone
Review by Michael Debbage
George Skaroulis career can almost be divided into two chapters. The years 1996 thru 2003 represent Skaroulis in a highly creative mode with the focus on his own musical DNA. That era ended with the glorious Second Nature and with the exception of the equally impressive Sanctuary in 2009, George’s recording material has relied heavily on compilations and cover albums such as 2009’s Imagine. More recently his last few projects have been dedicated to animals with the majority of the material being rehashed and then sprinkled with some new compositions here and there. So with the unsolicited receipt of Passions the listening experience began with significant reservation of what to expect. But by the end of the album there is no doubting that George Skaroulis is back with a sweet vengeance.
Closing in on close to 60 minutes of elegant piano work, all 19 tracks are original compositions that reveal Skaroulis in a super fine creative mood. His piano work is soft subtle and simple making Passions a perfect companion for your quiet time. In fact it parallels his fantastic work on Sanctuary and could have been entitled Sanctuary Volume II except it is an upgraded version. The album is not only a complete representation of George’s own writing material, but unlike Sanctuary it has no embellishments whatsoever. It also avoids any potential derailing by shunning away from a track similar to “Goddess” that almost tipped the peaceful nature of Sanctuary. Passions is surreal way to utterly and completely submit to laying down your arms from the battles of your chaotic life if even for just a moment.
To have to choose standout tracks on Passions is difficult as the focus is not on an overbearing melody but actually the preparation for a sweet surrender to a sun setting end of the day and a moment of solitude. And from that aspect Passions is a complete success making it one of 2013’s better releases and one of the gentle pianist’s finest moments to date.
February 16, 2014