2018 / Real Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Pieces of music and even entire albums often tell of a journey - be it internal or external - but Kevin Wood’s Eternal is an exceptionally personal musical journey of healing and emergence from a spiritual crisis that began when he lost his mother when he was in college. This is Wood’s fourth album, and his first release with Real Music, a label known for their music for healing, relaxation and meditation - a perfect fit for Eternal.
Another unique quality of Eternal is the combination of musical and cultural traditions it includes, sometimes in the same pieces: classical, African, Native American, Celtic, Indian and Gregorian chants and vocals are backed by an impressive list of guest instrumental artists such as Jami Sieber (cello), Francois le Roux (cello and vocals), Kelly Andrew (strings and drum production), and Paul Avgerinos (bass and percussion) in addition to Kevin Wood’s piano, keyboards and percussion. It’s a fascinating mix that combines to create a diverse selection of world music styles woven together with the themes of Wood’s search for life’s meaning and his embrace of Spirit. This is not an album to be relegated to the background (although it would be very pleasant in that role!), as Kevin Wood has shared so much of himself with the world through this very emotive music.
Eternal begins with “In Search of Meaning,” a piece that combines piano/keyboard, Gregorian, African and Native American chants, backed with a strong percussive beat. It’s a gorgeous and very compelling piece, and I interpret the mix of musical genres as being tugged in several directions at once accompanied by a bit of confusion. Francois le Roux provides vocals as well as cello to “Light Shines Through,” a piece that expresses the joy of feeling “the sun on my face, warm and shining, and washing into my soul. It was a call to embrace Spirit and to shine my light for others.” R. Harjo also contributes some lovely vocals on this one. “Father’s Love” is a favorite, expressing the deep and unconditional love Wood shares with his daughter. Jami Sieber’s cello and Steve Birch’s flute make this touching piece soar. I think most piano teachers would agree with me that the world doesn’t need another version of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” but then I heard “Grace Eternal” and changed my mind. The original melody is left intact, played on strings and piano, but with overlays of various chants, the simplicity of the melody takes on a freshness and a new meaning. I love this track! “Peace Begins With Me” is a wonderfully serene duet for piano and cello (Sieber). “Compassion Reigns” puts the piano in the foreground with strings and voices, creating a tender piece about opening our hearts with compassion and love for ourselves and others. In the liner notes, Kevin says of “Life Eternal”: “Heartfelt and mystical, it flowed effortlessly from deep within and offers a glimpse of my true sense of the Eternal.” It’s a breathtaking piece and one of my favorites. “Atonement” is a bonus track from Wood’s Kindred album. The album closes with “Stillness (Postlude),” a stunning piano (Wood) and cello (le Roux) duet that goes right to the heart.
Eternal is available from Real Music, Amazon, and iTunes. Highly recommended!
May 1, 2018