2012 / Truly Sage Media
Review by Kathy Parsons
Beautiful Shore is the debut album by Jeremy Yowell, the pastor of a small country church in northwest Illinois. The eleven piano solos are exceptional in their beauty and emotional power. All of the songs were composed by people who had been touched by death, and Yowell’s arrangements express the wide range of emotions that are a natural part of the grieving process. Yowell is himself the son of a pastor, and music has always been a driving force in his life. He took piano lessons from the age of six through high school, and then enrolled in the music program at a small Bible college where he studied music theory, history, composition, arranging, and conducting. His extensive training coupled with a profound love for music and its ability to reach people in ways that words cannot, are evident in Yowell’s masterly yet effortless playing style. He incorporates classical stylings from Bach to Gershwin to Scott Joplin into his own style, and I really like the selection of lesser-known hymns. Beautiful Shore was recorded at Joe Bongiorno’s Piano Haven Studio on Joe’s Kawai concert grand and the sound quality is perfection.
Beautiful Shore begins with “Ivory Palaces,” a song arranged in a classical style reminiscent of Mozart or Haydn. Lively and upbeat, it celebrates the prospect of being welcomed into heaven. “Sweet Beulah Land” is a southern gospel song, and Yowell’s arrangement is gentle and very peaceful. “Welcome Home” is a beautiful ballad that offers comfort and reassurance as Yowell’s nimble fingers caress the piano keys. Fanny Crosby’s “I Shall Know Him” offers a message of hope, and Yowell conveys the strength of that message with his dramatic playing style - sometimes soft-spoken and sometimes impassioned. “Rejoice, The Lord is King” has an almost Baroque grandeur as it expresses feelings of triumph and joy. “In the Sweet By and By” is quite a showpiece with each verse given a little different treatment. It begins softly and serenely, gaining momentum for the second verse and then quieting before the brilliantly sparkling third verse that then tapers off, becoming more reflective to the end. “Mansion Over the Hilltop” is a surprise with its lighthearted ragtime style. The middle of the piece becomes slower and more serious, returning to the ragtime style for the final verse. “When We All Get To Heaven” is joyful and celebratory with a Gershwin-like flair. It begins very gently, gradually evolving into a passionate message expressing the joy of reuniting beyond the pearly gates.
Beautiful Shore is an exceptionally impressive debut, and I hope it is the first of many releases from Jeremy Yowell! It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
April 16, 2012