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Album Review: The Tree of Life
Rebecca Harrold
Cover image of the album The Tree of Life by Rebecca Harrold
The Tree of Life
Rebecca Harrold
2023 / Rebecca Harrold
27 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
The Tree of Life is Rebecca Harrold's follow-up to her 2012 debut, The River of Life. Like the first album, this one was recorded at Will Ackerman's Imaginary Road Studios and was produced by Ackerman, Tom Eaton and Rebecca. In addition to Rebecca's piano and vocals, the album features Charlie Bisharat on violin, Eugene Friesen on cello, Jill Haley on English horn, Jeff Haynes on percussion, Premik Tubbs on sax, Ackerman on guitar, and Louis Ochoa on bass, with Hannah Woods, Josh Garner, Chris Rosser, Brad Smith and Hoppy Vaughan providing background vocals. Ranging from classical to gospel, the seven tracks present quite an eclectic mix of musical styles that showcase Rebecca's versatility as a composer and arranger as well as a musician. Dedicated to her late brother, the music overflows with heartfelt emotion both with and without lyrics. Four of the seven tracks are vocals that feature Rebecca's soulful voice in the lead and six are original compositions.

Rebecca Harrold was the youngest of seven children and was encouraged to pursue music from the time she was two years old. She started singing at the age of six and was composing and playing professionally for her church by the time she was ten. She graduated from Baldwin Wallace College with a major in vocal performance in 1985 and has since built a very impressive resumé both within and outside of the music industry.

The Tree of Life begins with "He Shall Be Like a Tree," an upbeat gospel tune that starts with a short acoustic guitar prelude before the chorus has its own a capella intro. Instrumentation on this one is piano, guitar and percussion plus the soulful voices - a joyful and inspiring opening! "Rhapsody" is a gorgeous trio for piano, cello and violin that demonstrates Rebecca's classical background. A blissful feeling of grace flows from every note, enveloping the listener in a dreamy warmth and contentment. "Anything For You" is a darkly powerful love song with Rebecca's voice in the lead backed by piano, cello and gospel-tinged vocals. I love this one! Actually, I don't have a favorite track - they are all so different and so good - but if I had to choose just one, it would be "Anything For You." I gave "Chorean" a very positive review a few months ago when Rebecca released it as a single. A tribute to the late Chick Corea, it's a playful and upbeat duet for piano and bass sure to get your toes tapping! Rebecca's arrangement of Franz Schubert's "Trio Op. 100, 2nd movement, Andante Con Moto" includes vocals, piano, cello and violin. Lyrics don't run throughout the piece, but when they appear, they are poignant and very sincere. It's an amazing adaptation of Schubert's classical piece. "Waltz Sentimental" features piano, English horn and cello in a graceful dance that expresses deep feeling capable of soothing away any rough edges of the day. "Many Ways" is a vocal, piano and saxophone prayer for unity, understanding and love that brings this excellent album to a passionate close. "Wow!" is my one-word review.

The Tree of Life is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites including Spotify and Pandora. I have my fingers crossed that Rebecca Harrold's third album will arrive in much less than ten years!
December 27, 2023
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Contributing artists:
Jill HaleyWill Ackerman
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