The Weary World Rejoices
2022 / Optimistic Flamingo
Review by Kathy Parsons
The Weary World Rejoices is the ninth full-length solo piano album from pianist/composer/educator Pam Asberry - quite an impressive number since her first album, Seashells In My Pocket, was released in late 2017! It is also Pam's second Christmas album and features a total of thirteen familiar and not-so-familiar songs of the season (one track is a medley of two songs), arranged in a soothing, thoughtful style that can ease the frantic of pace that sometimes takes over the spirit of the holidays. In Pam's own words:
It has been said that what unites us is greater than what divides us, and I believe this to be true, that even in these tumultuous times harmony and peace are possible. But we must learn to focus on the beauty and uniqueness of others rather than their faults or differences, and to live in love instead of in judgment. It is my sincere wish that this music will bring comfort and joy to all who listen, at Christmas time and always.
A very heartfelt "amen" to that! So, if you're looking for up-tempo party music, this album probably won't work for you, but if beautiful piano melodies and deeply expressive playing will add meaning to your holidays, this is a great choice! Fellow pianists will be happy to know that there is a companion sheet music book also available that has been transcribed note-for-note to match the recording (I proof-read the music, so I can guarantee it's as close as it can get!).
The Weary World Rejoices begins with "Christmas Medley ('The Snow Lay All Around' and 'Jingle Bells')." Both songs are quietly reflective and peaceful, setting the tone for the whole album. "Deck the Halls" is a traditional carol that can take on a variety of musical styles, and while Pam's arrangement is lively and upbeat, it is still on the quieter, more thoughtful side. A beautiful tenderness flows from "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear," offering peace on earth to those who will take the time to listen. "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" has become one of my favorite carols and also adapts well to a variety of musical styles, from very bright and spirited to slower and much quieter. Pam's wonderful arrangement is somewhere in the middle with its simple, prayer-like intro and very expressive verses with some of the song played with crossed hands - my favorite track on the album! Pam's arrangement of "Silent Night" is the ultimate lullaby for sleepers and dreamers of any age - so peaceful and soothing! "Carol of the Birds" is one of the less familiar carols, and Pam's arrangement is dark and haunting. "Joy to the World" becomes bright and celebratory, dancing on the piano keyboard as it shares the joyous good news and bringing the album to a delightful close.
The Weary World Rejoices is available from Bandcamp, Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites including Spotify. Sure to brighten your holidays as well as relieve some of the stress, be sure to check this one out!
October 9, 2022