2021 / All Heart
Review by Michael Debbage
Sometimes they say less is more but certainly not in the case of pianist Paul Cardall with not one but two stellar recordings for 2021. After the heavily emphasized vocal tracks on The Broken Miracle, Cardall avoided repeating himself sounding like a broken record. Instead he returned to an all instrumental recording that oozes of the wonderful piano compositions and performances we have come to expect from Paul Cardall, though with a slight twist. Needless to say December is a delightful delicate recording that will quickly find a prominent place alongside many of Paul Cardall’s top shelf material.
Your invitation to this recording begins with the slow soft reflective intro of “September Winds” that slowly finds its meandering gentle warm breezes of musical tempos that parallel the transitioning of September’s diminishing warm weather. The union of Cardall’s soft piano work and the string arrangements of Josee Weigand and Gideon Klein make for a wonderful merger of music. Followed up by equally exquisite “Beyond The Wall” it is here that you will begin to notice the tone of Paul’s piano work that includes the tapping of the inner works of his upright piano playing. Paul Cardall’s best sums it up in his own words. “All of it was made up on the fly. And it was done on an old upright that was not perfectly in tune or in great shape. Why? Because that’s the human condition and the idea was to have a real pianist turn that into something beautiful like the way God seems to smooth out all our rough edges. Out of 4 hours of improvising I chose the best 40-45 minutes.” And delectable choices they were.
All 46 minutes and 14 tracks of December will absolutely floor you whether the tracks are more introspective or flowery. On the latter it is probably the glowing “First Snow” that probably hits the mark the best. As for introspective, in spite of its title, the concluding track “A New Year” musically is more a reflection of the prior year than a celebration of the forthcoming year. It is a wonderful way to complete December.
Needless to say December is another monumental recording that we have come to expect from Paul Cardall with a truly unique way of presenting and creating his 14 latest gifts to his listening audience. And if this is not enough seek out his solo piano version sold online at his website as a download only. The only flaw on this diamond is whether this should have been sold as a double disc with both alternative recordings made available in one package. So maybe less is not more because some of us just can’t get enough of this artist who never fails to impress.
January 31, 2022