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Album Review: Second Nature
George Skaroulis
Cover image of the album Second Nature by George Skaroulis
Second Nature
George Skaroulis
2003 / Evzone Music
61 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Second Nature is quite simply one of the most beautiful recordings I’ve ever heard. George Skaroulis’ piano music is effortless, full of grace, and emotionally uplifting without any sticky sweetness or pretension. One senses a very giving and gentle soul behind the music, making the album all the more likable. “Soothing” and “relaxing” are words that are used to describe so many albums in this genre (most of them, actually!), but peace and tranquility emanate from each piece - although several are dark and moody (I like that!!!). This is a collection of twenty-one pieces that would be a wonderful backdrop for almost any activity, but I found myself stopping to listen more carefully each of the ten or twelve times I’ve played it (so far! - this one ain’t gonna collect dust on the shelf!). As a piano teacher, I listen to piano music for a living; and as a reviewer, I listen to piano music in most of my free time. It takes a lot to knock me out, and Second Nature has done it. Skaroulis’ music is immediately accessible without any commercialism. He expresses his deepest emotions without manipulating listeners or hitting them over the head with the obvious.

Along with his original compositions, Skaroulis has included a beautiful vocal/piano arrangement of “The Water Is Wide.” Vocal selections on a mostly-instrumental album can be annoying, but this one fits in beautifully. He has also included poignant arrangements of two of Mark Isham’s movie themes - “A River Runs Through It” and “Mrs. Soffel”. And then there are the originals. There are too many favorites to name them all, but I’ll try to give you a sampling. The title track is stunning - bittersweet, full of longing, and yet flowing like a river. “Reflection” is a shimmering vignette at under two minutes in length, but the openness of the emotions expressed make it a standout. “Aqua Clara” takes a different approach than the other pieces, and has lyrics spoken in Italian. More orchestrated and rhythmic than most of the other tracks, the piano, strings, and voices convey a wide range of emotions. A mysterious piece, Paul Mercer’s violin adds a dark and haunting quality. “Cold Morning Shadow” was co-written with Mercer; keyboards support Mercer’s sorrowful viola, melting into the ambient “Awakening.” The CD closes with a reprise of “Aqua Clara” that is simple, elegant, and very sad.

Second Nature is nothing short of amazing. I could go on for days, but give yourself a treat! I can’t imagine that anyone would be disappointed in this CD unless they were looking for rap or maybe a polka record. Great stuff! I give it my highest recommendation. It is available from evzonemusic.com.
March 3, 2003
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