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Album Review: Solo Piano, Volume 1
Neal Fox
Cover image of the album Solo Piano, Volume 1 by Neal Fox
Solo Piano, Volume 1
Neal Fox
2009 / Wire Duck Records
47 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Solo Piano, Volume 1 is Neal Fox’s first solo piano CD, but is certainly not his first recording. A veteran of the music industry in its many guises, Fox had his first record deal at the age of 20. As the industry changed, he became a jingle writer as well as a playwright, poet, visual artist, animator, videographer, and songwriter. Over the years, he continued to release CDs on his own Wired Duck Records. A sampling from Fox’s website (www.wireduck.com) shows much of that music to be political, timely, and often very funny. The pieces on this new album are melodies from some of Fox’s songs, arranged for solo piano. An exceptionally strong player, Fox’s music reflects a wide range of musical styles and influences, creating a unique voice and making it difficult to compare him to other pianists (not a bad thing, in my book!). Some of the pieces have a driving rhythm while others are softer and more romantic. I love the variety in the music and the strength of Fox’s musicality. The “Volume 1” in the title of the album hints that there is more to come, and I really hope that’s the case!

The first piece is “Bridal Suite,” a fascinating piece that contains a variety of themes in several different styles. It begins as a lovely, graceful ballad, picking up steam as it develops two additional themes that are in more of a rock style that isn’t so serious. All of the themes repeat, and return to close with the original melody. “A Father’s Touch” is a beautiful and emotional piece that conveys passionate love and strength. “I Will” and “I Give My Life to You” are tender love songs. “Don’t Worry So” is a favorite with its conversational and reassuring melody and heartfelt delivery. “I’m a Painter - Not a Prophet” goes a bit darker and more reflective - another favorite. “Bar Noir” is a hoot - kind of ragtime, kind of bluesy, and lots of fun (this one makes my fingers itch!). “Hold My Hand” takes a very simple, straightforward melody and creates a gentle love song. “Next Bottle of Wine” has an elegant, easy flow. “Human Rights Suite” is a standout. With themes/movements ranging from quiet and reflective to more turbulent and edgy, it seamlessly covers a broad range of moods and emotions - a must-hear! “Here’s To the World” is a warmly optimistic and uplifting closing piece that leaves you wanting more.

Solo Piano, Volume 1 is wonderful for active listening. Some of this music might stay in the background, but other pieces need to be heard and savored. The CD and companion sheet music book are currently available from >lulu.com/nealfox. The digital album will be available from CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon in August 2009. Very highly recommended!
July 25, 2009
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Kathy's Favorites: 2009
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