Poiema: Stories From the Piano
Kelsey Lee Cate
2020 / Kelsey Lee Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Poiema: Stories From the Piano is the debut album by Kelsey Lee Cate, and what an auspicious beginning it is! The title translates as “God’s workmanship” or “something created by God,” and Kelsey’s first album certainly offers her listeners a little slice of Piano Heaven. I will go so far as to say it’s one of, if not THE, best debut albums I’ve heard this year. Recorded and mastered at Piano Haven in Sedona, AZ on Joe Bongiorno’s incredible Shigeru Kawai concert grand, the album consists of twelve original piano solos played with grace, sincerity and heartfelt expression. An artist who frequently performs around the Seattle area, Kelsey’s playing is confident and powerful, but the power comes from the emotional depth of her music, not a lot of flashy fingerwork (although I have no doubt she is more than capable of playing with “flashy fingerwork”!).
The album begins with “Key to Me,” a gently-flowing introduction to both the artist and her music. I find it fascinating how Kelsey keeps the piece on the quieter, more pensive side yet expresses confidence and a firm resolve - a very welcoming invitation to get to know her and her music! “Poiema” conveys a sense of wonder as well as a prayer-like gratitude with its lyrical melody and expressive flow. “Transitions” hints at a jazz style with an interesting rhythm and a less-structured melody line. “Unspoken Prayer” has a quickly-flowing left hand while the melodic right is simpler and more direct. Both introspective and anthemic, it’s a beauty! “Anchor” slows the tempo back down and becomes much freer and more contemplative. It’s a piece that makes me imagine someone soul-searching at the piano in a dark room by the light of a candle. One of my favorites, “Sailor’s Waltz,” is a swirling, joyful dance on a cloud - a feel-good piece with substance! “Morning Song” expresses the relaxed warm fuzziness of a peaceful morning when you don’t have to jump out of bed and get going. I love those - and this piece! The tender “With You” overflows with so much love and contentment that words would only get in the way. It is up to the listener to decide who “you” is, but there is no question about the depth of the love expressed in the piece. “The Lighthouse” is my favorite piece on the album. Quiet and peaceful, Kelsey manages to beautifully express the strength and reassurance of the beacons of light from those often lonely structures perched on a cliff to warn sailors of the dangerous rocks below. Often engulfed in fog, the light will always shine and serve as a guide. (Yeah, I love lighthouses, too!) “Faithful as the Tide” returns to the warmth and comfort of deep and abiding love, and brings this wonderful album to a close. Where’s that “repeat” button???
Poiema: Stories From the Piano is an amazing first album from Kelsey Lee Cate, an artist I look forward to following. The album is available from Amazon, iTunes and several of the streaming sites. I give it my highest recommendation.
January 6, 2020