2019 / Anthem Music
Review by Michael Debbage
The year 2019 marks the tenth anniversary of Paul Cardall’s life changing heart transplant that was a very risky and elaborative life-saving surgery. As a result, Cardall was ready to be in a much more reflective mood to acknowledge and recognize this turning point in his life. With Peaceful Piano, Cardall has returned to his solo piano roots and collaborated with Grammy award winning engineer Michael Bishop to create a very open, flowing and subtle recording that in all its simplistic grandeur creates yet another breathtaking recording from this amazing artist.
After collaborating with producer Jim Daneker in 2018 to release the rousing epic Christmas album, following up with this effort was going to be a challenge keeping in mind that it was this reviewer’s 2018 record of the year. As a result, trying to compare these two records is just not a fair challenge as they are coming from two completely different places of Paul’s creative energies at the time of these recordings. That said, Peaceful Piano is a quiet celebration of this incredible artist’s challenges in his physical life with his soft tender piano work as the complete focus.
Clocking on at a total running time of 64 minutes, the album has eighteen brand new compositions that are totally undressed with no embellishments but just Cardall caressing the keys of a Concert Grand Model D piano provided by Steinway & Sons. With so much room to breathe, the majority of the songs are so spacious that at times it sounds almost improvised that brings comparisons with a more melodic Michael Jones. As result of the stripped-down playing, Cardall decided to bring in ten Grammy Award winning engineer Michael Bishop to specifically mic the piano and capture Paul’s gorgeous work. Needless to say, the results are outstanding.
With no filler nor any one track standing out in this slew of outstanding compositions is not a dig in anyway about Peaceful Piano. This is all about where the artist is at this time and place and appreciating the extension of life here on earth knowing that we are all temporary residents of this earth. In fact, this review is best summed up by the words of Paul Cardall himself who stated “...this is an album reflecting on my experience with receiving a donor heart. This is the 10th anniversary and I wanted to take fans back to the heart of my music, a piano solo. No effects. Raw!” With an attitude of gratitude Peaceful Piano is Cardall’s quiet celebration of his earthly life which in turn results in another stellar recording from this very humble musician.
September 2, 2019