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Album Review: Piano Impressions
James Michael Stevens
Cover image of the album Piano Impressions by James Michael Stevens
Piano Impressions
James Michael Stevens
2023 / James M Stevens Music
34 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Piano Impressions is the second of three solo piano albums that James Michael Stevens has released (so far!) in 2023, and it's only April! That doesn't include the singles or organ works he has also released, so this is one very busy composer! All eleven tracks on the album are original piano solos, and there is also a companion sheet music book available to download from SheetMusicPlus.com and/or SheetMusicDirect.com (see my review of the songbook on MainlyPiano.com). The Dean of The School of Music at Welch College in Gallatin, TN, Dr. Stevens' music is usually very soothing and relaxing with heartfelt melodies that come from a place of romance and love. His music isn't overly complicated, but the emotions are sincere, expressive and easy to relate to. I've reviewed quite a few of his many albums, and Piano Impressions is one of my favorites.

Piano Impressions begins with "Easy as A Breeze," a piece that really lives up to its title. The rhythmic pattern suggests a gentle breeze ruffling the newly-opened spring flowers and grasses as the earth comes back to life after a long winter. "Loxley Lake Serenade" is a favorite with its smooth and dreamy motion that feels much like the movement of water on a large lake - perhaps experiencing that movement while in a small boat. "Daydreams at Crystal Pond" is a wonderful musical depiction of a peaceful day in the sun, allowing happy daydreams to take you where they will. "Moonbeams in the Night Sky" is also very dreamy, but is somewhat more still and hushed - also a beauty! "Prelude Antique" is a little different with a flowing right hand and a slightly "hidden" melody that is poignant and very beautiful. This one reminds me a bit of some of Chopin's and Bach's easier preludes and also a favorite! "Quietly Flows the Night" could easily serve as a nocturne (night song) or a lullaby with its gentle peacefulness and soothing melody massaging away the cares of the day. Gray skies are a very common occurrence here on the Oregon Coast, and while they can be very calming and peaceful, they can also bring with them feelings of melancholy and introspection. "Song in a Gray Sky" expresses all of that with grace and gentleness. "Remember Serenade" has a warm, nostalgic feeling that suggests that happy memories are being revisited and enjoyed all over again. Dr. Stevens has also composed a large body of sacred music - both originals and arrangements - and "Prayers at Night" beautifully expresses the inner peace that can come from prayer anytime, but especially late at night. Simple and from the heart, it's a beautiful close to another lovely album from James Michael Stevens.

Piano Impressions is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites including Spotify.
April 20, 2023
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