Mysteries of Summer
James Michael Stevens
2022 / James M Stevens Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Mysteries of Summer is the seventh album released by James Michael Stevens in 2022! It's the eighteenth album of his that I've reviewed and I think it's my favorite (so far!). The fifteen original piano solos are peaceful and melodic, and several are on the dreamy, melancholy side. James is the Dean of the School of Music at Welch College in Gallatin, TN and has more solo piano compositions available on SheetMusicPlus.com than any composer in the world, including Bach, Mozart and Beethoven! His piano music tends to be on the romantic, relaxing side, making it very suitable background music for cozy meals, studying and social gatherings as well as for getting lost in and de-stressing. If you are looking for an album with lots of fancy finger-work and flash, this one won't work, but if beautiful melodies at an easy-going pace will do it for you, this is a great choice!
Mysteries of Summer begins with "As Summer Calls," a gently optimistic piece that sets the mellow tone of the album. "Before Morning" reflects on the peaceful stillness of the early morning hours when it seems like the rest of the world is still sleeping. "Blissful Day" is warm and sunny and feels much like a sweet daydream - ahhhh! "Journey of Peace" seems to be extending a big musical hug - soothing, comforting and reassuring. I love "Mirrored Sea," a wonderful musical portrait of a large body of water at its calmest - perhaps reflecting the moon in its gentle ripples. "Ode to a Lost Sunset" is quietly melancholy with a touch of regret - and very beautiful! "Peaceful River" picks up the tempo a bit and suggests beams of sunshine dancing on the water as it flows over the rocks. I really like the peaceful but haunting quality of "Reflection at Pine Forest Lake" - a tranquil moment captured in music. "Summer Night Lullaby" is a soothing nighttime piece for kids of any age - so peaceful and relaxing, and definitely a favorite! I love watching the sun go down at the ocean when the sky and water turn every shade of pink, lavender, orange and gold, and "Sunset Sea" captures that experience well. The title of "When Lullabies Were Young" is almost as intriguing as the music itself. Quietly dreamy and reflective, it seems to be reflecting on a more innocent time - perhaps when now-grown children were small and fell asleep easily to music and maybe a story. Sweetly nostalgic, it's a lovely close to a lovely album!
So, if you're looking for some gentle piano music to quiet your world for a while, Mysteries of Summer should be a good fit! It is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites including Spotify. Thumbs up!
September 26, 2022