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Album Review: Upstream
Rebecca Kragnes
Cover image of the album Upstream by Rebecca Kragnes
Rebecca Kragnes
2005 / Kaleidoglow Productions
54 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Upstream is Rebecca Kragnes’ fourth solo piano album to date, and this artist just keeps getting better. It has been a turbulent three years since Kragnes’ last recording, and the music from this new collection is sort of a musical journal, expressing and reflecting on many of the events of that period, giving them a mostly upbeat and positive spin. Kragnes has a very gentle and delicate playing style with most of her music, and quite a bit of it is played on the upper half of the piano, creating a lighthearted and sunny mood. David Lanz returns as Executive Producer, and his influence can be detected but isn’t obvious.

The opening track, “Time Piece,” is an interesting variation on the Westminster Chimes played on a clock given to the artist by her husband. That familiar little tune starts the piece, and then Kragnes develops it into a sweet composition that is light and airy. The only cover piece is Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose,” one of Kragnes’ favorite pop tunes from the ‘90s, and a lovely arrangement. “Facing the Music” is somewhat darker, and was written while reflecting on the shooting death of a young member of her church by gang members and how things that used to be other people’s concerns can affect us personally. “Memories of First Love” is also very reflective and gentle with a warm and loving mood - one of my favorites on this album. “God Bless The World” is a hymn asking God to bless the whole world rather than specific areas. Lyrics could fit very well, as the piece is very much an anthem. The title track was composed during the recovery period after being hit by a car and working her way through the pain in her shoulder. It is a joyful piece now, having finally arrived “upstream” - another favorite. I also really like “Winds of Change,” which has an infectious energy and a slightly mysterious feeling. Bigger and more powerful than most of the other tracks, this piece has a real passion about it. “Humor” is a dancing celebration of the healing power of laughter. Light and breezy, this is joy set to music. My favorite piece on this album is the closing track, “Calling,” which is a duet for piano and flute. Michael Malver’s flute brings an incredible emotional depth to this gorgeous piece, which was based on the “song” of church bells and was composed in a “call and response” style. The purity of this piece is stunning, and this is probably my favorite of all of Kragnes’ compositions so far.

Upstream was well worth the wait between albums! It is available from rebeccak.com and cdbaby.com. Recommended.
September 23, 2005