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Album Review: Safe Harbor
Rhonda Mackert
Cover image of the album Safe Harbor by Rhonda Mackert
Safe Harbor
Rhonda Mackert
2014 / Rhonda Mackert
53 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Safe Harbor is the third solo piano release from Rhonda Mackert and the follow-up to her 2011 A Wild Beauty. Safe Harbor tells the story of a personal journey onboard a sailing vessel and the sights and experiences found along the way. Most of the thirteen original pieces are calm and reflective and all are accessible and very enjoyable. Recorded and mastered at Piano Haven by Joe Bongiorno and performed on his exceptional Shigeru Kawai grand piano, the piano sound is warm, clear and very beautiful. Mackert’s graceful and expressive composing and playing styles effortlessly get her messages across, creating an easy connection between the pianist and the listener. There are no pianistic fireworks here, but that would actually work against the peaceful quality of the music. Instead, these are conversations between Mackert’s heart and the piano, captured in the pure language of music.

Safe Harbor opens with “Dreamer’s Lament,” which is the name of the boat she is sailing on. Gentle but more than a little melancholy, it’s a very intriguing beginning. “Shadowlands” goes much darker as “phantom voices whispered to me in the mist.” The changing rhythms in this piece give it an unsettled edge. “Approaching Storm” seems to gather energy and excitement as it progresses - a little bit foreboding, but not threatening. The middle section is actually very light and playful, and then returns to the original theme. “Eye of the Storm” is a favorite - so calm and peaceful. “Sea Glass” conveys the tumbling and tossing of a piece of glass by the shifting currents and tides of the sea while “Sea Birds” is more soothing and comforting. “Where Sea and Stars Meet” tells of sailing toward the horizon. Light and carefree, the seas have calmed and the music suggests images of sparkles dancing on the water. “Morning At the Marina” conveys the softness of fog wrapping itself around everything it meets and blurring all of the edges. “Breathing in the Sun” expresses the warmth of inhaling pure sunshine into your soul and letting it ease any cares away - blissful! “Journey’s End” brings us to the end of our travels, refreshed, renewed and ready to move forward.

Safe Harbor is a great soundtrack for an imaginary voyage in your mind (or your boat), driving your car, or simply for a pleasant and relaxing musical experience. It is available from RhondaMackert.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Recommended!
December 30, 2014