2017 / Cynelic Gast Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
One of the amazing things about the world of the arts and artists is that artists are often able to take a life experience, be it good, bad or indifferent, and turn it into a single piece of music, an album, a painting or drawing, a dance, a sculpture, a poem or novel, or any other creative outlet. Another inspiring aspect of this process is that by getting inside of that experience and creating something new with it, the artist is often healed and can also bring healing to others with the honesty and sincerity of his or her work - even if the actual experiences are entirely different. Such is the case with Matthew Labarge’s solo piano Spiriti, his sixth album and his most personal and intimate work to date. Labarge explains: “With this album, I wanted to tell a single continuous story from beginning to end - one that was obviously of a single source. To that end, I chose several themes and motives, and have woven them throughout the musical story, appearing in different pieces and different contexts along the way. The listener who takes the time to listen to the album in its entirety will, by the music's end, realize that they had unwittingly joined me for a spiritual journey.” As esoteric as this might sound, Labarge’s playing is expressive and colorful, and the music is very accessible to anyone willing to spend a little time with it.
The twelve tracks were composed over a three-year period and all of them are hauntingly beautiful. I find it interesting that the titles themselves give little specific information about what inspired the music, leaving it to the listener to interpret the meanings or emotions that are expressed. The first few times I listened to the album, I didn’t look at any of the titles, but I still sensed an unfolding story and let my imagination fill in the details. The music itself ranges from almost ambient to gracefully melodic to turbulent (just like life!), and ends with a beautiful “Love Song.” It is impossible to choose my favorite tracks on Spiriti, as they are all exceptional and, other than the recurring themes, are quite different from each other. Yet all of the pieces are essential to telling the whole story and the album really needs to be listened to from start to finish.
I have enjoyed all of Matthew Labarge’s albums, but Spiriti is by far my favorite, and will very likely be one of my favorite albums of 2017. Spiriti is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!!!
December 21, 2017