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Album Review: Mystical America
Laura Sullivan
Cover image of the album Mystical America by Laura Sullivan
Mystical America
Laura Sullivan
2004 / Delvian Records
67 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Mystical America is pianist Laura Sullivan’s most uniquely beautiful work to date. Inspired by the wonder and mystery of various sacred and magical sites around the country, the music is peaceful and soothing, but provides plenty of substance to think about, enjoy, and dream. All of the tracks feature Sullivan’s elegant and graceful piano, and others include guitar, keyboards, strings, and flute. Chris Camozzi, Scott Fuller, Mary Pitchford, and Diane Grubbe contributed their considerable instrumental talents to the project, and Camozzi also produced and arranged the CD. The twelve tracks are grouped into four sets of three pieces: Magical Creations, Sacred Symbols, Mysterious Messages, and Nature’s Splendor, and the liner notes take us on a fascinating tour with a knowledgeable guide. All of the pieces are original compositions with the exception of “Mt. Shasta,” which is a gorgeous arrangement of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” (Sullivan has included a favorite classical piece on each of her albums). The CD also includes a packet of hand-dipped desert sage incense to intensify the experience.

The first of the “Magical Creations” is “America’s Stonehenge,” which comes from Mystery Hill in Salem, Massachusetts. A duet for piano and violin, the piece is both mysterious and lighthearted - an odd combination that works beautifully. “Chaco Canyon” comes from a complex in northwestern New Mexico that was the main ceremonial center for an ancient people. Acoustic guitar and piano with some keyboard washes paint a tranquil scene. Part of the complex is a series of roads that go out from the structures in a series of straight lines that extend for miles into the desert. Thought to represent the out-of-body spirit travel of the shamans, the music has a floating quality that conveys peace and wide-open space. “The Serpent Mound” (Ohio) is subtitled “Celestial Harmony.” Ambient sounds enhance the gentle warmth of the piano, creating a delicate and serene soundscape. The “Mysterious Messages” pieces all have a light yet haunting quality. They are melodic, but somewhat less structured, and shimmer with gentle elegance - I especially like “The Heavener Runestone.” My favorite set is “Nature’s Splendor.” “Red Rock Country” (Arizona), subtitled “Scent of Desert Sage,” is a piano solo with a lovely rolling left hand and a sweet, simple melody. I had the pleasure of hearing Ms Sullivan play this piece on my piano at the Whisperings concert last summer, and it was hypnotic. My favorite track is “Hawaiian Islands: Born of Fire.” A bit different from the rest of the album with its upbeat tempo, I really like the energy on this one! The closing track is a gorgeous arrangement of “Moonlight Sonata,” a tribute to the majesty and beauty of Mount Shasta in California. Sullivan’s piano is faithful to Beethoven’s original, with subtle and poignant keyboard accompaniment added.

Laura Sullivan keeps growing and surpassing herself with each new release. Mystical America is a marvelous artistic achievement, and should be a treasure in anyone’s music collection. It is available from amazon.com, cdbaby.com, and gatemedia.com. Samples can be heard at laura-sullivan.com. Very strongly recommended!
January 24, 2005
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Kathy's Favorites: 2005
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