2020 / Lisa Swerdlow
Review by Kathy Parsons
Nearly two years in the making, Lasting Impressions is the third full-length album from pianist/composer Lisa Swerdlow. It is also her first time arranging her music to include other instruments (violin and cello), and the trio appears on two of the ten tracks. Two other tracks are fully orchestrated and were recorded by Paul Kraushaar at Parasight Records in Grass Valley, CA. All of the piano solos were recorded at Piano Haven in Sedona, Arizona by Joe Bongiorno. Thoughtful and reflective, Lasting Impressions arrives just in time to provide an uplifting musical experience to help the world calm and heal during this tumultuous time.
Lisa Swerdlow studied classical piano from the age of six, began writing and performing songs on piano and guitar at sixteen, and studied music theory and composition at Humboldt State University and College of the Redwoods. She was an active musician in the 1970’s and 80’s and then took a break from composing and performing until she returned to the piano and produced her debut album, Equus Rising in 2017. Her second album, Voyager, was released in 2018 and a few singles followed. Both of Swerdlow’s previous albums were (and are) very highly acclaimed, and I am sure this one will be, too.
Two versions of “Listening From the Heart” appear on Lasting Impressions. The first is the solo piano opening track, and the fully-orchestrated version is near the end of the album at track 9. The piece is a tribute to all of the people who have touched Lisa’s life in a profound way and expresses deep love and gratitude. Another first for this album is a trilogy of pieces titled “Dream Trilogy.” The first movement is “Slipping Into Dreams,” a gentle piece that flows freely, meandering a bit like the mind does as it approaches deep sleep - very soothing! “Dreams in Motion” describes the dream world of flying. Sometimes effortlessly soaring to great heights and sometimes drifting very peacefully, I really love this one - especially since there are no sudden drops or falling sensations! The third movement asks “Was It All A Dream?” and feels much like those first moments when waking from a vivid dream and wondering if it was real or what it might have meant. The more dramatic of the three movements, a fascinating variety of emotions are expressed within the piece. About a month ago, Lisa released a gorgeous single of “Dawn Contemplation” that was orchestrated by Doug Hammer. This album has the solo piano version, which describes the many nights when Lisa would awaken before dawn and try unsuccessfully to go back to sleep - another favorite track. “Still Here” reflects on surviving stage 4 breast cancer and the role music has played in keeping Lisa alive and healthy - wonderfully uplifting and full of grace. “Pentimento” is the first of the two piano/violin/cello trios and is an artistic expression of all things that are hidden from view. The title track is the other trio, although there is some percussion on this one as well as piano and strings. “Sing Me of Winter,” was released as a single the end of 2019 and is a beautiful piece for piano and orchestration.
Lasting Impressions is a very welcome breath of (musical) fresh air and is available from Amazon, iTunes/Apple Music, Spotify and other streaming sites.
June 6, 2020