James Michael Stevens
2023 / James M Stevens Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Cherished Dreams is a collection of eleven original piano solos composed and performed by James Michael Stevens. As the title suggests, the music is often nostalgic and reflects on the dreams and aspirations that have undoubtedly had a strong impact and influence on the course of one's life. The entire album is very soothing and relaxing and is often bittersweet and dreamy. The music isn't overly complicated, making it a warm and unobtrusive backdrop for quieter moments such as studying, a romantic dinner, or just kicking back. There is also a companion sheet music collection with all eleven pieces that is reviewed on this site.
James Michael Stevens is an incredibly prolific composer who composes and arranges sacred and secular music for choirs, organ and ensembles as well as for piano. Dr. Stevens is the Dean of the School of Music at Welch College in Gallatin, TN and has composed a huge body of music that has been purchased and performed in more than one hundred different countries around the world.
Cherished Dreams begins with the title track, a smoothly-flowing piece that expresses tenderness and warmth. "In the Moment You Believe" seems to offer loving encouragement - perhaps to believe in your dreams enough to make them come true. "Morning Promenade" is a quiet march with a steady beat and a playful melody. The smooth, gliding motion and deeply relaxed mood of "The Peaceful Swan" could easily serve as a lullaby for sleepy "kids" of any age. "Stone Horizons" goes in a darker, more mysterious direction, often venturing into the deepest bass notes on the piano - I really like this one! "Snow Spring Etude" takes on the light-hearted style of a simple classical piece - something Mozart or Haydn might have written for a child to play. "Serene Arioso" also has a classical feeling, but is a bit more "mature" than the etude. A steady left hand rhythm beautifully complements the wistful, bittersweet melody. "Misty Blue" is my favorite track on the album with its poignant, introspective melody and pensive mood - dreaming at the piano! The rhythm pattern in "Night Whispers" suggests (to me) the ticking of a clock during the night while the melody is very spare and peaceful - also a favorite! "All Your Cherished Dreams" beautifully expresses a loving conversation, perhaps with a child, offering wisdom and advice simply and directly. It's a lovely close for an album that's easy to get lost in as the music flows over you with warmth and gentleness.
Cherished Dreams is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites such as Spotify. The companion songbook is available from SheetMusicPlus.com and SheetMusicDirect.com.
April 18, 2023