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Album Review: Colors
Stephen Wallack
Cover image of the album Colors by Stephen Wallack
Stephen Wallack
2021 / Gale Road Records
48 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Colors is the fourth solo piano album from pianist/composer Stephen Wallack and is a collection of memories and experiences from the past year: "people, events and moments that have impacted me during this challenging time in our history." The album is dedicated to Wallack's nephew, Marlon, who created the cover artwork with some help from Wallack's sister (Marlon's mother). Wallack explains: "Marlon suffered a severe brain injury as a baby and has been unable to move or communicate on his own. Painting calms him and he uses his fingers to make his paintings with my sister's help. He inspires all of us everyday to live our best lives, and I could not love him more for that." The cover artwork is of a piano painted in vibrant colors that would brighten anyone's day. (I'm sure it's no coincidence that Wallack's childhood piano was also orange!) Like the cover artwork, Wallack's music is vibrant and full of life, expressing a range of emotions, as well as setting thoughts and memories to music. The ten pieces on Colors are all original compositions.

Stephen Wallack took formal piano lessons as a young child and then took off on his own. Influenced by George Winston and film music, he started writing his own music at the age of fourteen. He released his first album, Chapters, in 2019.

Colors begins with "Birch Lake," a piece that expresses the beauty of being by a calming, shimmering body of water. To me, the music suggests a place where someone could go to put things back into perspective when nothing else seems to make sense. The poignant "Josh" overflows with warmth and sincerity - a favorite. The title track seems to bring together a variety of themes and musical phrases that represent various colors from cool and peaceful to brighter and much livelier. "Stunning" is one of the quieter tracks. The gentle, expressive melody floats over an arpeggiated left hand while leaving lots of open space - a piece that doesn't need a lot of notes to tell its story! I like this one a lot, too. More powerful and dramatic, the piece called "Earth" seems to be sending a warning with a sense of urgency and possible danger. Near the end of the piece, some of the piano strings are damped/muted a bit - probably with Wallack's hand - to create a really interesting change in piano sounds. "Hope" has an exhilarating, optimistic energy that I really like. The driving left hand rhythm is a wonderful contrast to the quieter right hand melody, spurring it onward and uplifting its spirit. We can do this! The magical "Midnight" brings the album to a peaceful close, trailing off at the end.

Colors is available from www.stephenwallackmusic.com, Amazon, Apple/iTunes and streaming sites like Spotify. Check it out!
December 17, 2021
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