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Album Review: Simpatico
Lesley Spencer
Cover image of the album Simpatico by Lesley Spencer
Lesley Spencer
2023 / Gabriella Music
62 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Simpatico is the fourth solo piano album by Lesley Spencer and her first album in eleven years! Four of the seventeen tracks are previously-recorded pieces reimagined and newly recorded - the others are new. Lesley told me that she composed occasionally during those eleven years, but most of the music for this album was created during the past year. "To be perfectly honest, I thought I was done.  I thought I had said everything I had to say and wasn't even playing the piano much." Very fortunately, life became much happier and the creative spirit returned! Feelings of joy and elation run through much of the music, which ranges from high-energy to quieter and more reflective. I have been a fan of Lesley's music for a very long time, and it's great to have new music from her!

Simpatico begins with "A Walk In the Sun," a piece from one of Lesley's earliest albums, re-done at a livelier tempo that is both joyous and uplifting - an excellent start! "Free Spirit" first appeared on Lesley's ensemble album, Postcards From Spain, again at a slower tempo. Lively and carefree, this newer version feels like dancing on a cloud to me. "Jubilation" is such an expression of joy that it makes me think of Snoopy doing his happy dance! "Prayer For Peace" was composed in honor one of Lesley's friends who recently lost a long battle with cancer. She wrote this beautiful, heartfelt music while hoping that her friend has finally found peace. "Vanessa" is a tribute to another friend who has been battling cancer for most of her adult life. Quoting Lesley: "This track is her to me - it captures her spirit and beauty for she is truly a beautiful person - inside and out - intense but also playful." It's a wonderful piece and I'm sure it means the world to Vanessa! "You Are My Reward" is a beautiful love song that Lesley composed for a musical that was never produced. Flowing and deeply emotional, I'm so glad she decided to revisit the piece as a piano solo as it is one of my favorites on the album. As the title suggests, "On The Run" is high-energy, full of spirit and excitement, and was inspired by Lesley's buying a bicycle after thirteen years without one. "Katie's Song" was composed this past spring after Lesley interviewed a young woman (named Katie) for a documentary she is producing. Lesley's words tell the story best: "Katie has a very aggressive form of rheumatoid arthritis.  What she has been through and struggles with on a daily basis would bring Atlas to his knees - but she keeps on going.  She's a fitness instructor - teaches boxing - and is a personal trainer.  We are helping her make 'her mess her message' in hopes that she will be able to inspire others who not only have rheumatoid arthritis, but any other auto-immune disease." Full of grace and compassion, it's another favorite. "Just What You Mean To Me" is a tender and romantic love song written from the heart to express new-found love. "Birdie and Sedona" is a different kind of love song. Birdie was Lesley's wonderful Golden Retriever who passed away suddenly four years ago. Lesley started the piece shortly after that, pouring her love as well as her loss into the music, but just couldn't finish it. Earlier this year, a friend told Lesley about losing her own Golden named Sedona. Lesley could picture the two dogs playing together in heaven and the second half of the piece was inspired.

Simpatico is a great return for Lesley Spencer and I hope there will be more music from her soon! The album is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes, and several of the streaming platforms including Spotify. Check it out!
October 3, 2023