James Michael Stevens
2020 / James M Stevens
Review by Kathy Parsons
Heart Piano is the fifth solo piano album from James Michael Stevens for 2020 (plus quite a few singles!). All seventeen of the pieces on the album are original and are on the slower, more peaceful side. Romance is a frequent theme in Dr. Stevens’ music, as it is on this album, expressing warmth, tenderness and love. All of the music on this album is soothing, calming and beautiful to listen to either with focused attention or as a backdrop to working, studying, a quiet (romantic!) dinner or other activities.
The chairman of the Music Department at Welch College near Nashville, TN, James Michael Stevens is an extraordinarily prolific composer. He also composes and arranges music for choirs, other solo instruments and ensembles and has almost 4700 publications available on Sheet Music Plus.
Heart Piano begins with “Once In Every Lifetime,”a gentle but passionate love song expressed with grace and simplicity. “Let Love Dwell In Your Heart” feels like a deep and heartfelt conversation with a close friend - very open and honest. I really like this one! An elegy is often composed in honor of someone’s passing and most elegies express feelings of sadness and loss. “Elegy by a Quiet Stream” conveys those feelings with gentleness and compassion. “Freedom’s Journey” is livelier and more upbeat. “Lose Yourself in a Dream” includes washes of keyboard sounds to quietly enhance the piano and to create a dreamy atmosphere. I really like this one, too! “Lay Your Burdens Before The Lord” is a soothing prayer of encouragement and support. “Romance” feels much like a tender slow dance on a starlit night. “Quiet Winter Dreams” also has some added reverb and/or keyboard enhancements to add to the chilly but tranquil atmosphere of the music - magical! “Let Your Heart Find Peace” is warm, intimate and very loving. The music term “maestoso” means majestic and “Theme Maestoso” is stately and somewhat “bigger” than most of the other pieces on the album - a colorful change of pace. “Gentle Sunset” is peacefulness set to music. This sunset is in pastel tones rather than fiery reds and oranges and expresses sweet contentment. “Last Breath of Sunset” is more poignant and introspective. Elegant and gently flowing, it’s a beauty! Heart Piano comes to a peaceful close with “Follow Your Dreams in the Night,” a sweet and hypnotic lullaby for kids of all ages.
Heart Piano is available to stream or download from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and Spotify. There is also a companion sheet music book available in PDF form from SheetMusicPlus.com.
December 24, 2020