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Album Review: Hope for Harmony
Kathryn Toyama
Cover image of the album Hope for Harmony by Kathryn Toyama
Hope for Harmony
Kathryn Toyama
2006 / Kathryn Toyama
54 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Hope for Harmony is a gorgeous debut from pianist/composer Kathryn Toyama. Gentle, subtle, and very soothing, the eighteen tracks flow from one to the next as a seamless whole yet hold up beautifully as individual pieces. Most of the music has the spontaneous feeling of improvisation, and much of it is more ambient than melodic, setting a mood of quiet yet intense peacefulness. Several pieces remind me of George Skaroulis’ music that so effortlessly floats on a cloud of sound. The closing track is a duet for piano and guitar, but the others are solo piano. Passionate yet serene, the music follows the path of a spiritual journey that hopes for harmony within each individual and reaches out to global peace through acceptance and tolerant understanding. What a refreshing journey it is!

The opening track, “Hope,” sets a mood of quiet reflection. “Carefree” is more about a blissful nap in a warm sunny spot than jumping for joy, and has a real sparkle about it. “Finding the Way” is a favorite. The rolling chords in the left hand are a leisurely accompaniment to the poignant and passionate right. The minor key in this piece gives it an
exotic, bittersweet feeling that is really effective. Beautiful! “Slowly Healing” is cautiously optimistic, but feels very vulnerable - qualities you don’t often hear in music. As the piece progresses, it becomes stronger and then trails off. “True Friends” reflects the joy as well as the confidence and strength that come from true friendships. “The Light” and “Faith” seem to imply a turning point on the spiritual path to strength and inner peace. “Prayer for Peace” is another favorite. Deeply emotional and heartfelt, this short little gem touches the soul. “As Times Change” is reflective and nostalgic, with a strong sense of longing. “Floating on Dreams” is a daydream set to music - warm and gently smiling, wrapped in inner peace. Another beauty! “Spiritual War” is much more turbulent than the other tracks, and overflows with intense passion. Is this an inner struggle or a battle with a loved one with an opposing spirit? Fascinating! “Beyond a Dream” ends the journey with an uplifting duet with Kathryn Toyama on piano and Richard Alan on acoustic guitar, kindred musical spirits that communicate the peace and joy of hope and understanding.

Hope for Harmony is a very impressive and expressive first album from a very promising artist, Kathryn Toyama. It is best listened to with full attention, but also provides a quiet and soothing backdrop for massage, relaxation, and reflection. It is available from kathryntoyama.com, amazon.com, cdbaby.com, and iTunes. Recommended!
June 6, 2006
This review has been tagged as:
Debut Albums