James Michael Stevens
2022 / James M Stevens Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
James Michael Stevens' Summer Dreams is a collection of ten original piano solos composed in May 2022. A prolific composer from in Nashville, TN, Dr. Stevens is also the Dean of the Music School at Welch College. As the album's title suggests, the ten pieces are soothing and relaxed, expressing the feelings of pleasant daydreams and lazy summer days. Along with his many volumes of solo piano music, Dr. Stevens is internationally known for his music for choir, organ and other instruments as well as music for church ministry. Unlike many contemporary composers, Dr. Stevens writes his music out by hand before recording it and then reads the sheet music as he records, ensuring that they match. He currently has 6,640 items for sale on SheetMusicPlus.com (I told you he is prolific!).
Summer Dreams begins with "I'll Come to You on a Summer Day," a tender, romantic piece that brings me images of holding hands while walking by a lake or picking daisies for a sweet summer bouquet - a lovely start! "Lost In Velvet Skies" is a daydream set to music - slow, gentle and oh, so pleasant! "Easy Moments" reflects on times when nothing is pressing and you can just "be" without feeling any guilt about it - "easeful" defined! "Summer Fountains" has a mesmerizing sparkle that hypnotizes much like watching water dancing in a beautiful fountain - a favorite! "Elegy at Chaka Lake" is tinged with sadness and loss. Heartfelt with a gentle flow, it's my favorite piece on the album. "Irish Summer Fest" goes in a different direction with a lighter mood and a Celtic spirit. "Quietly the Clouds" returns to a very relaxed, dreamy feeling - a quiet nap in the warmth of the sun with fluffy white clouds moving effortlessly through the sky! "Sunbeams in the Sunset" makes me think of the magical peace that watching a beautiful sunset creates within. All seems right with the world in those wonderful moments. And then "Sunsets Fade Away," leaving feelings of quiet contentment as the day gradually slips into evening and then night. The piece with that title expresses all of that so beautifully! "Forest Moon" makes me think of the amazing vision of seeing the moon shining among the trees - especially a full moon in a really dark sky! It's a gorgeous close to a very beautiful and soothing album!
Summer Dreams is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes, and a variety of streaming sites including Spotify. Sheet music is available for the full album and/or individual pieces from SheetMusicPlus.com. It's a little bit of summer that can last all year long!
August 31, 2022