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Album Review: Little Red Boat
Mary Lydia Ryan
Cover image of the album Little Red Boat by Mary Lydia Ryan
Little Red Boat
Mary Lydia Ryan
2018 / Mary Lydia Ryan
43 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
I have always found it fascinating how a painting (or another art-form) can have a huge and lasting impact on someone’s life. A perfect example is the painting that inspired Mary Lydia Ryan’s solo piano album, Little Red Boat. The painting with the same title graces the cover of the album and was painted by Seattle-area artist Steve Jensen. The painting entered Mary Lydia’s life in 2015: “I fell in love with the energy, the depth of layers of beauty and artistry it holds. I felt the music in me rising to the surface while gazing at it. I placed it on my music stand atop my piano and began composing with ease.” The music and titles to the twelve piano solos were created as the musical journey unfolded. It is interesting to note that Mary Lydia lives and composes on a floating home on a lake in Washington State, which helped to shape the feeling of the pieces. All of the tracks are very relaxed and express the gentle rocking movement of a boat on peaceful waters. Little Red Boat has been nominated for Whisperings Solo Piano Radio’s “Album of the Year” award and has been named as one of the “Top 3 Best Piano Recordings of 2018” by Dyan Garriss of NewAgeCD.com. The album was recorded and mastered by Joe Bongiorno at his PianoHaven Studio in Sedona, AZ.

Little Red Boat begins with the title track. The gently rocking rhythm conveys the feeling of being on water while occasional percussive notes make me think of light dancing on the surface of the lake. “Woman in the Moon” is slower, more mysterious and very graceful. The haunting melody is played with a hypnotic velvet touch that says more than words ever could. “Floating on a Gentle Breeze” is positively dreamy as it soothes away the stresses of the day. “The Joy of Ten Knots” picks up the tempo a bit and you can almost feel the wind in your hair as you effortlessly go sailing through the water. “Sailing this Sea Alone” is wistful and perhaps “wishful” as well. A bit more melancholy, it feels like a musical soliloquy spoken to the sea at night when “alone-ness” feels the most real. “How Did I End Up Here” could also be late-night musings by candlelight - gently introspective and poignant. “Waltz Under the Sun (Kevin’s Song)” was composed for a close friend who was “experiencing his own inner ocean storms.” Light and overflowing with warmth and caring, I’m sure Kevin found healing in this lovely gift. In “Sparkle on the Water,” the left hand seems to be expressing the gentle movement of the water itself while the more percussive right hand conveys the beauty of light dancing on the surface of the water. “Ocean of My Soul” provides almost 6 1/2 minutes of peaceful bliss, floating on a sea of tranquility without a worry or trouble in the world. Very open, free and beautiful, it brings the album to a serene close.

Little Red Boat is an excellent choice for music for relaxation, meditation, background music for working or quiet activities, or simply to enjoy calming piano music. It is available from www.iammarylydiaryan.com, Amazon, iTunes, Apple Music and CD Baby.
December 23, 2018