2009 / Shadow Mountain Records
Review by Michael Debbage
Born with a defective heart that has seen a mountain of corrective and temporary surgeries, Paul Cardall has faced insurmountable odds to reach the age of 36. Unfortunately, the year 2009 began with the clarity and reality that Paul’s heart was going to fail him very soon. With the release of the Sacred Piano compilation this was a great way to reflect on the impressive recording portfolio of the gentle and creative spirit of Paul Cardall with the possible reality that it may also mark a milestone of his life here on earth. Instead, a very recent and successful heart transplant has resulted in a new lease in life for the struggling earthly body of Cardall, transforming Sacred Piano from a milestone to a celebration in the life of pianist Paul Cardall.
Excluding reissues but including festive and live recordings, in less than 15 years Paul Cardall has released 12 albums. Not only is the frequency impressive but each album reflects a growing artist not willing to limit his possibilities. With Sacred Piano we get the opportunity to see where Paul has come from but also where he is going, as he carefully selects fifteen tracks that well represent his beautiful music over the last 15 years.
For those of you new to Paul Cardall, Sacred Piano is a great place to start. The album does touch on most of his recordings, however, there is a heavy focus on his 2001 release Miracles, the most commercially appealing album to date. In fact, Miracles is represented by five total tracks most significantly by the gorgeous “Time” and spine tingling “Voices”. Similar results can be found courtesy of the tear wrenching strings of Steve Sharp Nelson on “Redeemer” the sole representative from the uplifting album Songs of Praise.
For the legion of fans that have already purchased all 12 of his prior releases there are a couple of surprises that may entice you. They come courtesy of the thoughtful and delicate “Gracie’s Theme” created during Paul’s turbulent health issues. In addition, there is his rendition of “Amazing Grace” also recorded earlier this year prior to Paul’s hospitalization. Add in the other familiar hymn “Were You There?” and there is nearly 19 minutes of new material from Paul.
This is not considered a comprehensive overview of Paul Cardall’s recording career. His impressive debut Sign Of Affection is overlooked and his Narada debut The Looking Glass is represented by a single entry courtesy of “The Release”. Nevertheless, Sacred Piano is a wonderful way to not only reflect on the music but to also celebrate an artist that has the will to live and passionately spread the love of Christ through his beautiful music and ministry. And God willingly, Sacred Piano will be one of many future retrospective recordings from this beloved pianist.
January 1, 2009