My first impression of Songs For Emelie
from the beautiful black and white photo of an adult hand holding the hand of a tiny baby was that this was going to be an album of lullabies. What a happy surprise to discover a rich, full collection of piano solos that range from quiet, peaceful songs that could be used as lullabies, to much more upbeat, jazzy, and even bluesy pieces. Most of the nineteen tracks were inspired by German composer/pianist Marcus Loeber’s baby daughter, Emelie, but other aspects of Loeber’s life are also incorporated, and the extensive liner notes (in both German and English) give deep insight into the music as well as the musician. A few of the tracks have some synth additions, but most of them are spontaneous piano improvisations that are cohesive, melodic, and soothing.
It’s difficult to single out favorites in an album that’s consistently this good, but a few jump out for me. The opening track, “The Beginning,” has a very unusual rhythm track - the sound of Emelie’s heartbeat from an ultrasound recording made before she was born. Loeber plays an ambient piano line over the sound of the heartbeat, creating a distinctive opening to his album. “First Impression” conveys the mix of emotions Loeber felt as a new father the day after Emelie was born. A free improvisation, it is deeply personal and evocative, capturing the essence of what he was experiencing at the time. “Good Night” is as peaceful and gentle a lullaby as ever was. “One Finger” begins as a jazzy one-finger melody that is joined by the other nine digits later in the piece. A cool, breezy jazz piece with a nice walking bass line, we’re starting to realize that this is a very versatile pianist! “Sarabande” is a delightful surprise. Sounding a bit like a giant music box that is slightly off-kilter, the melancholy melody is just beautiful - a dance that keeps changing directions. One of my favorites! “Wide land” is a bit more classical in structure, and was inspired by the view from Loeber’s studio. Very pastoral and melodic, one gets a strong sense of peace and tranquility. “Thoughts” is a bit more ambient and floating - “I have managed to give my utmost bliss a musical frame” (from the liner notes). “Moment” is another favorite. Arising from the death of a good friend, it is obviously very sad and poignant, coming straight from the heart with both grief and questioning - quite a “moment” that speaks volumes. “Spur 29” was also inspired by tragedy - the death of a three-year-old girl at the hands of her parents. I have listened to this piece at least a dozen times, and it still brings tears to my eyes. “Tiger’s Tune” was written for the first son of some friends, and muses on how the birth of a child changes the parents’ priorities so immediately. Introspective and thoughtful, but full of warmth and love, this is also a standout piece. “First Steps” is very interesting. It begins as an etude for six hands on two pianos, and celebrates Emelie’s growing range of activities. Kind of noisy and fun, this is quite different from the rest of the album. Next, there is a minute of silence, and then Loeber finishes the CD with a wonderful blues piece that is slinky, seductive, and very dark. It is not listed as a bonus track, but I think it must be. Don’t miss it!
Songs For Emelie
is an outstanding debut from Marcus Loeber, and I predict we’re going to be hearing a lot more from this artist! Samples are available on songsforemelie.com
, and purchases can be made there as well. Very highly recommended!