2015 / Peter Calandra
Review by Kathy Parsons
First Light is the very impressive follow-up to composer/multi-instrumentalist Peter Calandra’s 2014 Inner Circle. With a lifetime of experience working in many different areas of the music and entertainment industries - including playing keyboards for major Broadway productions and composing a wide variety of music for movies and television - Calandra’s composing versatility is nothing short of amazing, as his musicianship and depth of emotional expression. Even though the music on First Light covers a lot of musical territory, the album as a whole carries a consistent mood of warmth and optimism. Peter Calandra is an artist who defies classification, effortlessly merging genres and styles to create a unique musical voice that is easily accessible but also substantial enough to stand up to many listens, revealing new facets each time. Calandra is featured on this album as composer of all of the music and performs on piano, keyboards, electric and acoustic guitars, synth bass, acoustic percussion, percussion programming, and sequencing; he also engineered and co-mixed the recording, AND did the album artwork! He is joined by a large group of guest artists playing strings, flutes, oboe, percussion, and choir on some of the thirteen tracks.
First Light begins with the buoyant and joyful “Open Your Heart,” perhaps the most radio-friendly track on the album. Don’t get me wrong - this is not ear candy. It’s just such happy music that I can’t imagine anyone not loving this piece! “Night City” is my favorite track. Although the rhythm is lively and often driving, there is a sense of mystery paired with a sense of magic - this one catches my breath every time! The title track begins very lightly, gradually building as it evolves. Flute, oboe, and voices evoke feelings of optimism at the start of a new day. “Sunset Sky” has the piano front and center with strong percussion and choral voices - more musical magic! “Valley of Two Lakes” is another favorite, this time in more of a new age/ambient style. Very smooth and gentle, flute, strings, voices, and keyboards paint a picture of serenity and beauty. “Keep the Faith” is a lively piano solo that reminds me a bit of Michael Dulin. I love “Inner Secrets,” a haunting piano piece with lots of reverb that gives it a mysterious feeling and keyboard washes and enhancements that add color and atmosphere. “Sunrise Over New York (2015)” is a trio for piano, bass, and percussion. Smooth and uncluttered, it expresses the peaceful magic and quiet hush of early morning. “The Poet” closes this outstanding album with a smooth jazz piano solo.
First Light will most certainly be on my list of Favorites for 2015 and should reward Peter Calandra with many new fans. He’s the real deal! First Light is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. I give it my highest recommendation!
September 24, 2015