2011 / Shadow Mountain Records
Review by Michael Debbage
Paul’s prior album Sacred Piano released back in 2009 was an effort to reflect on Paul’s recording portfolio as he waited for a much needed new heart as his own defective heart that he was born with was failing him. Life was very uncertain and this was a good time to reflect on his recording portfolio. What a difference a miracle and the wonders of medicine can make as Paul faced an almost insurmountable complicated heart transplant to see his health restored and his creative energies re-harnessed. Needless to say New Life reflects a new beginning for Paul Cardall and he does it in grand style, recording his most significant album to date.
New Life is probably Paul’s most extensively embellished production since Miracles and the album begins with the concise and beautiful composition entitled “The Traveler” written by his brother Brian who recently passed away. The very brief song is a multilayered cello performance by the always stunning work of Steven Sharp Nelson. It is followed by the lengthy and progressive “Letting Go” that has three very distinct movements that flow effortlessly like a gravity defying seagull gliding over the tranquil yet gently rhythmic ocean.
The emotion and passion continues to stream from Paul’s fingers courtesy of “Coming Home” dedicated to his wife Lynette and daughter Eden. Good luck getting through this song without the tears flowing. The same can be said for the surreal title track as well as the totally revamped “Gracie’s Theme” that we first heard on Sacred Piano. Paul felt that due to his failing health and limited time, the recording did not have the complete arrangement that he had intentionally envisioned. You will hear it for the first time in its more complete form and it is nothing short of a spectacular transition. The same can be said for “Life And Death” originally written by Academy Award winning composer Michael Giacchino, yet Paul’s arrangements breathes new life into this already magnificent composition. Fans of the TV show Lost should be very familiar with this particular soundtrack. Needless to say there is no filler on this brilliant album that has even surpassed Yanni and Enya in the Billboard New Age Chart hitting #1 without any major label support. Amazing!
As gorgeous as New Life is, it is supplemented with a bonus DVD that includes a moving visual documentary of Paul’s struggling health ailments with his family and friends staying close by as Paul gracefully remains focused in his faith and on His Creator. After beating the insurmountable odds, as his family and friends celebrates Paul’s victory the documentary flows effortlessly into a recording of his very first live performance only six months after receiving his heart transplant. Frankly, it plays out like a Hollywood movie script when in reality it is a simple but emotional story about a family man who is surrounded by the love of his family and friends and steadfast in his faith. Paul could not have summed it up better when he said “I was born with half a heart. God made up the difference.”
Ultimately the New Life CD/DVD celebrates Paul’s transition from his old failing heart to the transformation of an abundantly vibrant heart giving Paul a new lease on life but by the grace of God. With the exception of “Gracie’s Theme”, “Signs Of Affection” and “Come, Thou Fount” all being revisited with significant makeovers, the remainder of New Life is all new material and quite frankly is Paul Cardall’s greatest musical achievement to date.
May 30, 2011