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Album Review: Moments
Ryan Marvel
Cover image of the album Moments by Ryan Marvel
Ryan Marvel
2021 / Ryan Marvel Music
48 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
It often surprises me how many really good pianist/composers there are in the world, and then once in a while an album comes along that is so good that it takes me to a different place altogether. Ryan Marvel has actually done that to me several times and I'm always grateful for the experience. I had reviewed two of Ryan's earlier albums before his 2017 Reflecting Forward landed on my desk and totally blew me away with the beauty of his playing and the profound emotional depth he expressed in the music. That album was awarded "Album of the Year" by both Whisperings Solo Piano Radio and SoloPiano.com and with good reason. In 2018, Ryan released Winter II, which was awarded Album of the Year by SoloPianoChristmas.com and was nominated for Holiday Album of the Year by both Enlightened Piano Radio and SoloPiano.com. Continuing on that path, his 2019 Generous Night, Redeem was awarded Album of the Year by Whisperings and was nominated for Album of the Year by SoloPiano.com. So no pressure for the next album, right? Moments is that album, and it lives up to any overly-lofty expectations - and more. Mesmerizing, inspiring, and incredibly beautiful describe the album, but you really need to experience this music for yourself!

Ryan Marvel describes the album: “Moments is a collection of music about poignant moments in our lives that resonate and stay with us and the feelings that accompany those points in time. Happy, sad, big, small - all very present in our memories and hearts. These moments create a fuller picture of who we are in our core and inform our decisions and paths. The titles refer to moments that made me feel deeply; and upon reflection, seem to be experiences that are cyclical. I hope this music helps you to remember and cherish the moments in your life."

The album begins with "Rays," a piece about witnessing a sunrise or sunset with rays of light piercing through the clouds or fog. Flowing broken chords on the left hand are played near the middle of the piano while the right hand plays the melody in the upper end of the keyboard. Gentle yet sparkling, it's a lovely opening. "Commencement" is both reflective, looking back at his own youth, and poignant, as a father watching his daughter growing up. "Yesteryear" is an elegant and deeply-felt nod to Chopin, expressing the uncertainty of the past year and a half - a favorite. The shifting time signature in "Changes" gives it a slight edge that is always interesting but never uncomfortable. "Empty Stage" is another favorite and was inspired by the moments before a concert or before a daughter's dance recital. The classical styling of this heartfelt piece is gorgeous and expresses a variety of deep emotions. "Farewell" feels very alone and sad - working through feelings of loss and solitude at the piano - also a favorite. The much lighter "Equinox" has a spritely Celtic style and celebrates spring and new life. You can almost see wood-spirits dancing for joy in the fresh new grasses and wildflowers. "Unfolding" was released as a single and is included on the CD version of the album, but not the digital version. This beautiful piece is about "the moments that lead to a vulnerable and opening heart." The flowing left hand brings out the emotional depth of the very spare melody - breathtaking! There aren't many things that are more relaxing than being away from the city lights and watching the stars come out at night. "Stargazing" expresses both the awe and the peacefulness of that experience perfectly. "Goodnight" and "Sleep" both feel very much like the moments before falling into a deep sleep - open, relaxed and cozy. And then the album ends. Ahhhhh....

Moments is available from www.RyanMarvel.com, Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites like Spotify. This album is a must!
September 23, 2021