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Album Review: Weeping Joy
John Kraemer
Cover image of the album Weeping Joy by John Kraemer
Weeping Joy
John Kraemer
2016 / John Kraemer
39 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Weeping Joy is the fourth solo piano release from John Kraemer, a young pianist/composer from San Antonio, Texas. The eleven original piano solos on the album reflect on a variety of life events, both internal and external. The music was written during a time when Kraemer was suffering with intense chronic headaches and fatigue. He says in the liner notes of the CD that God was the one behind this album. “It has been through my tears that His joy has been able to manifest itself.” The music is mostly quiet and thoughtful, expressing its messages with spiritual and emotional depth rather than flashy pianism. Melodic, often poignant, and very beautiful, Weeping Joy is definitely a keeper! In addition to solo piano music, Kraemer has composed and performed music in various styles and genres. In 2011, the Minnesota Sinfonia orchestra performed his composition, Jubilation Overture. He has written modern church hymns and songs, piano covers, mash-ups of musicals, contemporary popular music, and film scores. I have not yet heard Kraemer’s previous albums, but I have to say that with his natural talent, dedication and versatility, his musical future looks very bright indeed!

Weeping Joy begins with “Elizabeth’s Theme,” a gracefully-flowing tribute that expresses an abundance of emotions. The title track explores the concept of paradoxes. Sometimes very tender and delicate and sometimes much bigger and bolder, it’s a lovely study in contrasts. “Longing” weaves together a variety of major and minor key themes to form a piece that expresses the complicated mix of feelings that can cause longing. I’m often reminded of how perfect the piano can be when it comes to music about rain - any kind of rain: delicate, percussive, turbulent and/or very peaceful. Kraemer’s “Window Rain” is of the gentler variety, although it builds to a stormy middle section and then subsides to droplets hitting the windowpane. “Teardrops” also come in a variety of watery styles and while this piece is very poignant, it also seems to express the healing power of shedding a few tears (or a lot of them!) - my favorite track on the album! I also really like “My Soul Waits,” a tender and deeply-reflective piece that seems especially personal and sincere - one of those pieces that may have been composed very late at night by the light of a candle. “Light Dawns” expresses the optimism and promise of a new day as well as the pastel colors of an early sunrise. “This Day” closes the album with something of a musical prayer of gratitude and thanks.

If you enjoy quiet but very expressive solo piano music, be sure to check out Weeping Joy! It is available from www.JohnKraemerMusic.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
January 6, 2017
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