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Album Review: Close to Home
Laura Sullivan
Cover image of the album Close to Home by Laura Sullivan
Close to Home
Laura Sullivan
2008 / Sentient Spirit Records
41 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Close to Home is pianist/composer Laura Sullivan’s fifth CD release to date. Each of Sullivan’s albums has had a unique theme or approach, but all have included music concerning nature and love, and all have been on the gentle, soothing side. Last year’s “Feast of Joy and Love” featured Sullivan’s ethereal and wordless vocals on a few tracks, but this time she sings as well as using her voice as a musical instrument. Sullivan also provides all of the instrumentation - piano and keyboards, percussion, orchestrations, effects, flute, and tin whistle; she also engineered the project AND adapted and arranged all of the music. Sullivan’s previous albums have been a combination of original music and original arrangements, but Close to Home contains ten traditional songs from Europe and the US arranged and orchestrated to create a consistent dreamy mood and relaxed feeling throughout the album.

Close to Home begins with the traditional Shaker melody, “Simple Gifts.” Performed on keyboard, Sullivan keeps her arrangement simple and uncluttered - a lovely opening. “She Moved Through the Fair” is a dark and haunting Irish song that Sullivan has orchestrated with layered voices, flute, keyboards, and simple percussion; the effect is mesmerizing. “The Ash Grove” is a charming instrumental track that is lively and lighthearted. Sullivan’s adaptation of “Red River Valley” is a bit more orchestrated with layers of keyboard and wordless vocals - graceful and peaceful - a favorite. I also really like her beautiful and dreamy version of “Shenandoah,” which is full of longing and tenderness. I have always loved “Scarborough Fair,” and Sullivan does it up right. Keyboard and background vocals keep it simple and straightforward yet still deeply emotional. “The Water Is Wide” has been a very popular and much-recorded song the past few years, but Laura’s lovely singing makes it sound like the song was written just for her - another favorite track. Sullivan closes the album with a gentle lullaby of “All Through the Night,” with some new lyrics undoubtedly adapted for her little girl - a sweet and loving “good night.”

Close to Home is available from laura-sullivan.com, amazon.com, cdbaby.com, and iTunes. If you are looking for some new takes on familiar songs with ethereal vocals as well as fluid instrumentals, check this one out!
November 4, 2008
More reviews of Laura Sullivan albums
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