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Album Review: The Open Road
Heather Pierson
Cover image of the album The Open Road by Heather Pierson
The Open Road
Heather Pierson
2012 / Sacred Vessel Recordings
56 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
The Open Road is the sixth release from pianist/composer/singer/songwriter Heather Pierson, an artist who embraces a multitude of musical genres from blues, jazz, and soul to narrative story-songs to gentle piano solos to Native American chants. The Open Road is a collection of fourteen original piano solos that includes six pieces from the “The Heartland Songs” series, an homage to Pierson’s childhood hometown of Joplin, MO. The album was recorded on a fully restored 1930 Model A Mason & Hamlin piano that must have an impressive array of stories of its own to tell! Most of the songs are flowing, melodic, and easily accessible - no heavy drama, but lots of heart. Warm and engaging from start to finish, Heather Pierson’s musical voice is fresh, original, and a delight to behold.

The Open Road begins with the title song, a lively piece that suggests the freedom and excitement of setting out on a new adventure - perhaps one without a specific destination. “Bittersweet” has an easy flow tinged with just enough melancholy to merit the title. “Doc Bradley’s Waltz” is a graceful minor key waltz with a poignant lilt and a sweet melody; I especially like the darker, more turbulent middle section. “Edith” is one of my favorites. Coincidentally, “Edith” is my grandmother’s name (and my middle name, but don’t tell anyone!), and this piece seems to suit her well - somewhat complex and always moving forward with strength and determination. One of the more dramatic pieces, it tells a wonderful story about another great lady named Edith. “Flight of Fancy” is as light and carefree as the title implies. “Late October” has the feeling of an improvisation - free and in the moment, expressed from the heart without reservations; very effective! “The Heartland Songs” begin with “Jasper County,” a gentle, nostalgic piece that tells of a simpler time with fond memories and bittersweet longing. “Skipping Rocks at Shoal Creek” is full of innocence and playful energy. “Sunflowers” suggests graceful movement with just a touch of funk for fun. One might expect “The Storm’s Promise” to be turbulent and dark, but it’s actually a very peaceful, serene piece - a beauty and another favorite. “Wheat” elegantly conveys the rippling motion of a breeze moving through a field. The Open Road ends with “Prairie Sunset,” peaceful, warm, and very content. What a great introduction to this very impressive artist!

The Open Road is available from heatherpierson.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!
February 4, 2013
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