2018 / Matthew Mayer
Review by Kathy Parsons
Beautiful You is the twelfth solo piano album from Matthew Mayer, an artist I’ve been listening to since 2005 when he sent me one of his early albums, Beyond, to review. I have enthusiastically reviewed some of his more recent albums and had the pleasure of meeting Matthew and seeing him play live earlier this year. All twelve of the original pieces on Beautiful You are peaceful and calming, but are very much on the poignant to melancholy side, played very gently and with heartfelt emotion. Mayer’s velvet touch on the piano keys isn’t a matter of engineering wizardry. When he plays his quieter music, there are no percussive effects from the piano keys at all - like pearls on velvet. Beautiful You was recorded at Piano Haven in Sedona, AZ on Joe Bongiorno’s exceptional Shigeru Kawai concert grand piano. The piano sound is perfect for Mayer’s music - clear, resonant and silky-smooth.
Both the title of the album and the cover artwork can be interpreted in several different ways. Beautiful You could be an album dedicated to one specific person, but it is actually a message to everyone who hears the music. This quote from Mayer explains it best: “There is a simple & instrumental message I hope to get across in this album, which is You are Enough. There is nothing more you have to prove or pretend to have or be. In a world of comparisons, immediate awareness of what everyone is doing, it’s easy to doubt the beauty of who you are….right now! There is one true fact, and that is ‘You are beautiful!’” Obviously, the intention of this music was to go much, much deeper than simply telling someone that he or she looks nice. In this world of bullies and cruel gossip, it’s a message that needs to go out often, and Mayer expresses it with heartfelt sincerity.
Beautiful You begins with “Raindrops of Amor,” a gently flowing piece that perfectly expresses the feeling of a quiet rain that refreshes everything it touches. “Fly Little Bird” is as tender and delicate as the title suggests - so simple and yet so expressive. “You Are Enough” is very haunting and deeply emotional, perhaps trying to comfort and reassure someone who feels very isolated and alone. The title track begins with a series of slowly-rolling broken chords that lead into a delicate, almost fragile melody that is achingly beautiful. “Of Haunt and Hope” is stark and very open, with notes played singly and with space between them - often feeling almost tragic. “Tranquility” makes me think of a mirror-like surface on a lake and the gentlest of breezes blowing through the surrounding trees. Mayer often includes a piece on his albums titled “Dreams” followed by each piece’s number in the series. The one on Beautiful You is #7. Warm, delicate and very light, this is obviously a very pleasant dream!
Beautiful You is guaranteed to be a contender for many “best” awards for the year. It is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Don’t miss it!
February 10, 2019