1999 / Hearts of Space
Review by Kathy Parsons
My rather jaded heart usually turns off when I see a CD called something like "Love" with a cover photo of a handsome man with a suit and tie looking like the perfect date (wow!). Thanks to the selection of our illustrious editor, I did not miss the opportunity to discover a wonderful composer/pianist. I have to admit that I expected a lot of cliches from this album, but find that the more I listen to it, the more I “Love” it! It is so sincere, warm, and honest that it deepens with each listening rather than wearing thin.
The set opens with “Whispers”, a wordless vocal duet with Julie Last and Boswell accompanied by piano - sweet and subtle. The majority of the fourteen tracks are solo piano, and what gems they all are! Boswell’s playing style is fuller and more complex than many pianists of the genre, but it is never overblown or showy. “Recollection” is gentle and wistful. “Heartdance” is a swirling ensemble piece with piano, bass, guitar, and English horn. “Love Letter No. 1”, “I’ll Meet You There”, and “Toujours” are piano solos without reproach - what open and pure emotion flows through these simple pieces. Cellist Martin Tillman, who was so incredible with Michael Hoppe on “The Poet” and more recently with Hoppe and Tim Wheater on the stunning “Afterglow”, makes a wonderful duet partner on the gentle and tender “Love”, and also plays on “When You Take My Hand”. The latter piece features Julie Last singing the lyrics she penned to Boswell’s lovely and moving melody. “Absence” returns to solo piano with an aching quality - poignance set to music. “Secrets Revealed” explores the tentativeness and then exhilaration of letting someone really close.
John Boswell’s musical exploration of this often overdone emotion brings such a breath of fresh air that I won’t be as cynical next time I see a handsome man on a CD cover bearing a simple title. There is nothing trite or cloying here, and I look forward to hearing Boswell’s previous albums - especially Trust, which earned him the 1999 GLAMA award for Male Artist of the Year. Love is a winner, too - don’t miss it!
January 1, 1999