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Album Review: Secret Places Private Thoughts
Lesley Spencer
Cover image of the album Secret Places Private Thoughts by Lesley Spencer
Secret Places Private Thoughts
Lesley Spencer
1999 / Gabriella Music
60 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Secret Places, Private Thoughts is a gorgeous collection of original piano solos by multi-talented pianist/composer/arranger Lesley Spencer. As the title suggests, these pieces are mostly reflective and intimate, allowing the listener a glimpse inside of the composer’s soul. Often, albums of this type convey feelings of pain and loss, but the thoughts and places reflected upon here are mainly warm and pleasant - not necessarily joyful, but optimistic and soothing. The music is varied enough for repeated active listening, but the tone and mood are fairly consistent, creating a feeling of an easy-going peace that would serve as a lovely backdrop for quiet activities. Lesley Spencer’s other recordings have been mostly piano and ensemble works, so this solo piano album is especially welcome.

The CD opens with “Song of the Wind,” a piece that sometimes swirls and dances and sometimes just kind of breezes along. This is a gentle, playful wind that catches falling leaves and keeps them from touching the ground. A beautiful beginning! “Childhood Revisited” celebrates innocence and beckons us back to simpler times. “Affairs of the Heart” is poignant and more than a little nostalgic, remembering good times and people who have come and gone from our lives. “Sweet Voice Within” is one of my favorites. Warm and gentle, this piece exudes a quiet joy. “Only Yesterday” is another favorite, with its powerful sense of longing. “Piano Suite” is a five-movement piece that illustrates five different emotions and states of mind. “Nostalgia” delicately conveys the sense of longing for the past; “Empathy” gives a feeling of true understanding and acceptance; “Longing” has a rubato rhythm and the deep bass notes of the piano evoke feelings of passion; “Affection” is light, warm, and sunny; and “Serenity” depicts that sense of perfect inner peace that can often be elusive. “Piano Suite” is a powerful and compelling work. “Ballade” feels especially personal to me. Its gentle flow and deep introspection seem almost naked in their sincerity and honesty. “Impromptu” is probably my favorite piece on this album. Deeply emotional and passionate, the listener is drawn in and held tight by this heartfelt musical tale. “Spirit Awakening” takes us back to the light and joyful side of life, and “Joie De Vivre” closes the album with a bit of musical sunshine.

Secret Places, Private Thoughts is an outstanding collection of deeply personal piano solos. The music is soothing and uplifting, but is far more substantial than “ear candy.” It is available from lesleyspencer.com, cdbaby.com, and amazon.com. Recommended!
April 3, 2006