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Album Review: The Water’s Edge
Jonathan Menard
Cover image of the album The Water’s Edge by Jonathan Menard
The Water’s Edge
Jonathan Menard
2007 / Jonathan Menard
47 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
The Water’s Edge is Jonathan Menard’s fourth CD to date. A 24-year-old chemist from the Boston area, Menard grew up listening to his parents’ recordings of David Lanz’s music and developed a deep love for the piano. Lanz’s influence can be heard in Menard’s music, but he is very definitely not a wannabe or a Lanz knockoff. It is more like Lanz’s music gave him the freedom to pour his soul into his music without going over the top, keeping his music structurally sound but deeply personal and evocative. Also a guitarist with rock leanings, Menard says of the piano, “Truthfully, I enjoy it more, and find myself completely at peace when sitting at the piano.” One track, “The Souvenir,” is beautifully orchestrated, but the other twelve tracks are all solo piano, and all are original compositions except his arrangement of the theme from “Braveheart,” “A Gift of a Thistle.” I suspect that Jonathan Menard is a young artist we’ll be hearing a lot from.

The Water’s Edge begins with “Reunited,” a piece that is sometimes buoyant and almost conversational in style at times - a nice start! “The Coming Tide” is a gem that sparkles like light dancing on the water. Concise yet all over the piano, it’s a lovely lead-in to the title piece. The Water’s Edge is built on a series of themes that flow together effortlessly, sometimes quiet and calm and sometimes bigger and more powerful. “Winding Path” conveys a sense of adventure as well as of mystery - what’s around the next bend in the path? “Charisma” is light and playful, dancing and twirling in the sunshine. “Little One” has a steady meter and a distinct melody that could lend itself well to lyrics, although it is more than fine as an instrumental piece. “Purgatory Road” is one of my favorite tracks. It has a bit more flair and some very interesting minor chord changes. More cheerful than the title implies, it’s an effective piece. “Mindthought” is more freeform and has a swirling energy that never stops moving. “Variations of ‘A Gift of a Thistle’” slows down the pace with a hauntingly beautiful arrangement of the theme from “Braveheart.” Menard obviously has a real affinity for this piece and plays it soulfully and sincerely. “The Souvenir” begins with just piano. After a brief prelude, keyboard strings enter with washes of color. The heart of this piece is the piano, but Allison Lacasse’s flute gives it wings - a really beautiful piece and my favorite on this album. “Until the Last Drop” is possibly the most Lanz-like of the pieces with its slow grace and simple, elegant melody - a great ending to a most impressive album.

Jonathan Menard is off to a terrific start, and I can’t wait to hear his music as his career progresses. The Water’s Edge is available at www.cdfreedom.com and more info about Jon is on his website, jonmenard.com. Recommended!
March 26, 2009