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Album Review: Original Demos
Steve Dorff
Cover image of the album Original Demos by Steve Dorff
Original Demos
Steve Dorff
2005 / Contante & Sonante
47 minutes
Review by Michael Debbage
Setting aside the fact that they are all successful singers, what else do Kenny Rogers, Whitney Houston, Anne Murray, Kenny Loggins, Ronnie Milsap, Melissa Manchester, Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand have in common? At some given time, they have all used the strong songwriting capabilities of three-time Grammy nominee pianist/composer Steve Dorff. Released back in 2004 Original Demos had the double effect of presenting the listening public with some of his latest offerings and also showcasing the tender and emotive talents of the late great vocalist Warren Wiebe.

The album opens with “A Little Thing Called Life,” and while it is not the set's strongest track, it represents the first song that the pianist and the vocalist worked on together. However, the follow-up composition, “And Still Run Out Of Time,” gives you the listener the ability to hear the magical merging of a beautiful melody, an uncomplicated lyric and an effortless vocal. Needless to say, Dorff’s delicate piano work is in excellent company. Similar results are found on “Kindred Spirits,” which also shows some of the range that Wiebe is so easily capable of reaching. Better yet, check out Steve’s gorgeous song “Love’s Silver Lining” that he wrote for his own wedding. Despite the very mild string embellishments, the focus is Dorff’s very rich piano work.

While most of the album is anchored in the simplicity of Warren singing alongside Steve’s hook-laden melodies, there are moments of greater depth. The most obvious entry would be “True Love At Last,” which includes a swaying percussion arrangement further supplemented with some very fine acoustic guitar work. Just as compatible are the arrangements of “The Echo Of Your Whisper” and one of Dorff’s best-known hits “I Just Fall In Love Again,” made famous by the Anne Murray rendition, while Warren creates his own spin on the matter. In complete contrast, the album closes out with the heart-wrenching “Somewhere In Time” that also represents the last collaboration between Warren and Steve.

Original Demos is certainly not just another album from the timeless composer Steve Dorff, but also a gorgeous tribute to the late Warren Wiebe. Simply stated in the liner notes, Steve shares that “I have been blessed throughout my career to have been able to work with some of the most talented artists and musicians of our time. Warren Wiebe was certainly among them, taken away far too soon. He was a genius, a joy to be around, and a lovely man…I sure do miss him.” For those of you familiar with the vocals of Warren, this is as close to a solo album that we will ever get to experience. Anchored in the memorable melodies and performances of songwriter/pianist Steven Dorff, for just over 46 precious minutes Original Demos truly makes time stand still.
April 4, 2005