My Secret Heart
2005 / Narada
Review by Michael Debbage
Whalen’s body of work is very eclectic and despite being gifted, Whalen refuses to package his music in the same wrapping. Needless to say, My Secret Heart relies on the smooth flow of the organic New Age instrumental genre, with its warm and inviting understated melodies. Nevertheless, it is integrated with open passages of time and space, making its bloodline overwhelmingly ambient.
Born in New York and raised in Washington DC, Whalen’s musical origins began on the percussion. However by high school the piano had encapsulated and mesmerized his imagination. The rest as they say is history. A vast majority of his work has resulted in soundscaping for many television shows which have even resulted in an Emmy award.
My Secret Heart is deeply personal and introverted allowing the listening to rest and relax in the gorgeous music of Whalen. “I Have Loved You For A Thousand Lifetimes” mesmerizes the listener from the very beginning. The melody is memorable, but not overwhelming, gently transfixing the listener. This track is followed up by the even more open “Hands Of Silk” with Whalen’s hands initially glancing gently over the keyboards only to draw on the melody line of Rose Royce’s hit “Wishing On A Star”, however, the comparisons stop there.
The ambient theme becomes even more ambitious courtesy of the moody and lengthy “Tantric” whose theme rises again courtesy of “Moonglow”. Even so, Whalen’s compositions continually returns to the more soft and romantic, courtesy of the ultra silky “Your Eyes In The Candlelight” and “Addicted To You”. It is this theme that breathes life into the heartbeat of the project.
If you are expecting to be overwhelmed with heart-racing melodies that sweep you up in the air then this album is not for you. Though the melodies are memorable, they are composed in a much understated way. So much so that this album will require repetitive visits to fully enjoy. The emphasis here, as suggested by the album title, is meditative qualities integrated with melodic themes from this ever-evolving romantic pianist. That said Whalen is utterly successful in sharing the essence of his most inner being.
March 14, 2021