Favorite Icon, Full size
Album Review: The Presence of Wonder
Pam Asberry
Cover image of the album The Presence of Wonder by Pam Asberry
The Presence of Wonder
Pam Asberry
2019 / Optimistic Flamingo Music
48 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
The Presence of Wonder is the third solo piano album from pianist/composer (and a whole lot more!) Pam Asberry. Asberry released her first album, Seashells In My Pocket, in 2017, and was named Enlightened Piano Radio’s “Best New Artist” for 2018. In 2018, she released a wonderful Christmas album called Thankful Heart, Joyful Mind, which was also very well received. The Presence of Wonder shows even more growth as a composer and is a collection of thirteen heartfelt pieces that were inspired by a wide variety of life experiences. A lifelong pianist and a longtime piano teacher, Asberry’s extensive classical training and performance experience has given her the ability to play just about anything, but her composing (so far) expresses emotional clarity without a lot of unnecessary flash. I have thoroughly enjoyed all three albums, but I think this her best so far! The liner notes of the CD include an “About the Music” section that explains the inspiration for each piece, giving insight from the composer about which each one “means” (not that music has to mean anything!). Fellow pianists will be happy to know that there is a companion sheet music book for The Presence of Wonder, which is also reviewed on MainlyPiano.com.

The album begins with the title track, a beautifully reflective piece that contemplates “the infinite wonders that exist in both the physical and spiritual realms.” Very elegant and graceful, it’s obvious that this lovely piece is the result of some very deep thinking and very deep feeling. “Nebula” picks up the tempo to celebrate the birth of a new star. A quickly flowing left hand pattern supports a dramatic and very poignant melody on the right. Magical! “Lullaby for Mackenzie” is also very poignant but in a much different way, as it was lovingly written for a daughter who lived for only a week twenty-five years ago. Obviously still a very big part of her mother’s heart, this tender piece expresses love and sadness, but also gratitude for the life she had, as brief as it was. “Nocturne” is a favorite. The most melancholy piece on the album, it is also very peaceful and gives a gentle nod to Chopin. Soul-stirring! I really like “Surrender,” too, which is a “musical depiction of the journey from outer turmoil to inner peace.” Repeated octaves in the deep bass of the piano create an intensity and dramatically convey the feeling of turmoil, as do a few discordances. At almost six minutes, this is a “big” piece in more ways than one. The second half is almost hymn-like as the music becomes more peaceful and resolves. “Devotion” is a loving tribute to “our canine companions and the blessing of their unconditional love.” Anyone who has ever shared life with a dog will love this sweet and light-hearted piece! “Wishes In the Wind” is a nod to the fantasy that blowing the seeds off of a dandelion will make wishes come true. In the course of constantly digging dandelions out of my lawn, I had forgotten the carefree magic they symbolize, so I appreciate the reminder! (I still don’t want them in the lawn, though!) “Now” is a graceful meditation on the importance of living in the moment, and is a lovely way to end this excellent album.

It is hard to believe that Pam Asberry has been composing for only a few years, but her life in music has given her wings! The Presence of Wonder is available from PamAsberry.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Check it out!
April 28, 2019
This review has been tagged as:
Kathy's Picks