James Michael Stevens
2023 / James M Stevens Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Autumn Candle is the eleventh of twelve albums of solo piano originals released by James Michael Stevens in 2023 (his first album of 2024 is ready to go on January 19th!). It truly is astounding how much music this amazing composer has created over the past ten years. In addition to his piano music, there are many collections of his organ and choral music, cover tunes, orchestrations and more. There are currently 7381 items under his name on SheetMusicPlus.com AND he is the Dean of the Music Department at Welch College in Gallatin, Tennessee!
The overall feeling of Autumn Candle is gentle, relaxed and often romantic. The twelve piano solos are perfect for studying, de-stressing, quiet background music for a cozy dinner, and so many other things where warm and peaceful music can set a relaxed atmosphere without breaking anyone's attention span or focus.
Autumn Candle begins with "Candle of Fairy Forest," a sweet little bit of musical magic that sets the mood for the the album. A graceful movement flows throughout "Serenata Romantica," suggesting images of a beautiful slow dance, perhaps under the stars. "Promenade of the Falling Leaves" picks up the tempo a bit with a light and easy elegance much like the feeling of leaves fluttering in a breeze as they drift to the ground. Quite a bit darker in mood, "I Heard the Gray" is very slow and pensive, expressing deep emotion with a minimum number notes - a favorite. I also really like the moody "Nebula Sea" and the way it alternates between major and minor modes. As its title indicates, "Peaceful Bay" is serene as it emulates the gentle movement of a calm body of water. The dreamy "Autumn Song" suggests change, reflection and grace - all elements of the fall season. "Lost in a Thought" is hypnotic with its repeated patterns and steady tempo. "Silent Marsh" returns to a gentle water theme that has its mysterious moments as it moves slowly and effortlessly. I really like this one, too! In constant motion, "Swirls of Gold" alternates between major and minor modes while suggesting the movement of leaves being swept around by the wind. "Always Stars" has much of the right hand playing in the upper octaves of the piano, creating a twinkling effect like starlight in a clear sky - magical! Appropriately, the album closes with "Dreams and Lullabies," the perfect music to lull almost anyone into a deep, contented sleep, ending the album with a blissful sigh.
Autumn Candle is a beautiful listening experience and is available from Amazon and Apple Music/iTunes as well as streaming sites including Spotify. The sheet music is also available as a PDF book and individual downloads of each piece.
December 27, 2023