A Place Beyond
James Michael Stevens
2023 / James M Stevens Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
A Place Beyond is very soothing and relaxing collection of ten original piano solos by pianist/composer James Michael Stevens. The exceptionally beautiful cover artwork for the album will be the first thing that captures your attention, but beauty isn't necessarily skin-deep, as is truly the case for this album. Poignant and tinged with melancholy, this album is an excellent choice for music for relaxation, meditation and dreaming, as well as for the sole purpose of musical enjoyment (and there is nothing wrong with that!).
A Place Beyond begins with the title track, a beautiful piece with a steady rhythm on the left hand and a wistful, dreamy melody on the right - the perfect soundtrack to those times when you lose yourself staring out a window, not necessarily seeing what is actually beyond the glass. "Dream Away" is a lovely expression of blissful contentment - sigh... "Drifting at Shimmer Lake" makes me think of the hypnotic effect of sunlight dancing on the surface of calm water - enchanting! "Lady of the Lake" has a slow, easy grace that gently soothes the mind. "A Gentle Peace" picks up the tempo somewhat while maintaining a smooth feeling of tranquility. Slowing back down a bit, that feeling continues with "Blissful Peace," which feels much like floating on a cloud! By definition, an "elegy" is a piece of music with a sad or mournful feeling - often composed to honor the memory of someone who has died. "Elegy at Stanpit Marsh" is somber and quietly reflective, growing very dark near the end. "Mountain Stream" returns to a more peaceful vibe, this time with the melody in the left hand while the right hand keeps a smooth rhythm. "Triste Serenata" translates as "sad serenade." Slow and deeply emotional, this one really tugs at the heartstrings. The album comes to a warm and peaceful close with "Sunset Italian," the perfect ending for this soothing and relaxing album!
A Place Beyond is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes, and streaming sites including Spotify. Downloadable sheet music is also available for this album - the full songbook or single pieces - from SheetMusicPlus.com and SheetMusicDirect.com. The songbook is also reviewed here on MainlyPiano.com. If it's peaceful music you're looking for, you can't go wrong with this one!
August 14, 2023