2005 / Real Music
Review by Michael Debbage
Kevin Kern released his debut album back in 1996. One year shy of a decade he continues his business and creative relationship with Real Music and throughout that artistic period has been one of the labels most consistent composers. His music is simple and surreal with an eloquent beauty that is exquisite and haunting at the same time. Imagination’s Light falls utterly under the same category bringing a continued high level quality of music one has come to expect from this Steinway artist.
What is impressive with this album is that there are no fillers at all. It starts off with the inspirational “Remembering The Light”, which includes the soft nylon acoustic strings of Mike Miller and the gentle but rhythmic bass of Terry Miller. In fact, this track is reminiscent of Kern’s early material from his wonderful debut album In The Enchanted Garden. Mike Miller’s guitar work compliments Kern’s stellar Steinway grand piano, producing a musical painting that would inspire Monet to create one of his sensitive and romantic landscapes. Embellished by subtle strings, this introduction sets a high standard for the entire album.
That said Kevin follows up with the intoxicating “Safe In Your Embrace” and “Musings”. While these songs follows a similar format of its predecessor, the emotive tone continues at peak inspirational levels. Fortunately, Kern mixes up the format by countering these tracks with the stark gems like “Pearls Of Joy”, “Keeper Of The Flame” and the closer “And The Light Is Forever”. Here Kevin goes it alone with his piano and despite the stripped down approach the results are equally as enjoyable.
Even the cover version of Sting’s “Fields Of Gold” is a very pleasing arrangement. So what’s not to like? The only minor problem is that Kern decided to return to the use of manufactured string arrangements and when compared with the warmth of the organic The Winding Path there was no getting around that this was a step backwards. Overall, Kevin pulls it off but the higher pitched “Told To The Heart” cannot hide the chill that comes from this non-organic approach to the strings.
As slight as this problem is, this does not change the fact that Kevin Kern, nine years later continues to display a compositional prowess that shows no sign of weakening. Frankly, Kern has become one of the genres most reliable and warm artist capable of producing gems over and over again. From that aspect Imagination’s Light is no different to the growing portfolio of this piano man.
September 9, 2005