Shadows and Shades
James Michael Stevens
2023 / James M Stevens Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Shadows and Shades is the first album of 2023 by pianist/composer James Michael Stevens, quite possibly the most prolific composer on the planet! Composed during November and December of 2022, the twelve piano solos on the album are reflective and poignant. All of the pieces are played at a relaxed tempo, making this an excellent choice for music for studying, meditation, and background music for a nice dinner or any activity where quiet music would be appreciated. It would also be very enjoyable in the car as well as for more focused listening pleasure. Dr. Stevens is the Dean of the School of Music at Welch College in Gallatin, TN and has composed a huge body of music for piano, organ, choirs and various ensembles. He is well-known around the world for his soothing and romantic piano music which has been purchased and performed in more than one hundred different countries.
Shadows and Shades begins with "Borealis," a lovely piece that sets the gentle, relaxed tone of the album. "Theme From an Early Morning" is very peaceful and suggests pleasant images in warm pastel colors. "Flow My Thoughts" is composed mostly in a series of hypnotic broken chords - I really like this one! "Silently My Love" is a graceful slow waltz that overflows with tender emotions. Somewhat more mysterious and haunting, "Hour Glass" expresses the steady, persistent flow of time until it slows down at the end. "Theme From Dream Lake" is, well, dreamy! It feels like a warm, peaceful daydream, perhaps while sitting in the sun by a beautiful lake. The heartfelt "Serenata al Tramonto" is a favorite. Both lyrical and dark, this one really speaks to me. "Andaman Sea" moves smoothly and purposefully, much like a large, calm body of water with beams of sunlight dancing on its surface. The steady tempo of "Lost in a Moment" suggests the passage of time while the minor key broken chords seem to express feelings of melancholy." Graceful, calm and very beautiful, "Where Peace Is Found" can transport you to a happy place where all is right with the world. "Twilight Meditation" is also soothing and very calming - tranquility set to music. The album comes to a close with "When Night Has Fallen," an expression of the peacefulness of the world as darkness descends and (most) creatures prepare to sleep (and dream!) - a lovely close to a lovely album!
Shadows and Shades is available from Amazon, Apple Music and streaming sites such as Spotify. Sheet music for this album can be downloaded as the full book or individual pieces from SheetMusicPlus.com and SheetMusicDirect.com. The songbook is also reviewed on MainlyPiano.com. Both the album and sheet music are recommended to bring some welcome calm to your world!
January 20, 2023