Living for Eden
2008 / Stone Angel Music
Disc One: 45:36
Disc Two: 42:45
Review by Michael Debbage
The year 2008 has been a busy one for founder of Stone Angel Music and artist Paul Cardall. With the release of The Hymns Collection earlier this year along with his production involvement with Ryan Stewart’s gorgeous debut album Equanimity, Cardall still found the time to release his latest double disc effort, Living for Eden. With this kind of schedule it would leave any ordinary person exhausted. Paul is far from ordinary but rather extraordinary and Living for Eden parallels its creator.
The first disc features the band accompaniment that includes the ever-present Steven Nelson on cello and Randy Herbert on drums and percussion who have been playing alongside Paul as far back as the 2003 album "Faithful." The band is rounded out with Ryan Shupe on fiddle and Ryan Tilby on bass and guitar that also assists with the production. Meanwhile, the album opens with a familiar but slower rendition of Cardall’s very popular song “Grateful” from his prior album Songs Of Praise in the form of the song “Our Love”. While it is a lovely introduction, the album really kicks into gear courtesy of the percussion driven “A Peace Of My Heart” with a great sense of melody. Similar themes are rendered courtesy of “Wasatch” and the uplifting “November” dedicated to the birth of Cardall’s daughter. Once again you can hear a very faint borrowing from “Grateful” but at the same time it stands on its own merit.
Disc one also includes several simple and serene ballads such “Hope” and the melodramatic “Forgiven” but the ballads are more prominent on disc two aptly subtitled "Solo Piano Improvisations." Many of the songs revisit themes that have already played out on the previous disc but they are stripped down and on many occasions recorded at the home of Paul Cardall. However, the accompanying recordings are not all recreations of what you have already heard. Two tracks that speak volumes despite their simplicities are “1986” and “1987” which represents the year that a young thirteen year old Cardall fell very sick and the following year faced a complicated reconstructive heart surgery. With or without the band the music is magical.
Paul Cardall was born with a congenital heart condition and is currently on the waiting list for a heart transplant. He may have a broken heart but certainly not a broken spirit. That said, Living for Eden is not an album focusing on life’s trials and tribulations but rather it focuses on life’s vitality and victories. Equal to his 2007 stellar effort "Songs Of Praise," Living for Eden is just as inspiring and uplifting and is a mirror reflection of its creator, a gentle spirited pianist called Paul Cardall.
February 1, 2008