Stories From the Sea
Tom Ameen and The Outlaw Ocean Music Project
2021 / Synesthesia Media
Review by Kathy Parsons
When I started looking into the story behind Tom Ameen's Stories From the Sea, I had no idea of what I was getting myself into! Tom mentioned that his original music was based a New York Times bestselling book, The Outlaw Ocean by Ian Urbina and was also part of a project spearheaded by Urbina called "Making Music from Journalism.” I thought Tom Ameen's album was one of maybe a dozen or so, but was blown away when I started looking into the project more closely. So far, there are 380 albums from artists from all over the world with music created in a wide range of genres. What an amazing project! The book itself is the result of Urbina's five years at sea doing investigative reporting for the New York Times: "There are few remaining frontiers on our planet. But perhaps the wildest, and least understood, are the world’s oceans: too big to police, and under no clear international authority, these immense regions of treacherous water play host to rampant criminality and exploitation." So now I have ordered the book and have a new world of music to explore! Thank you for enlightening me, Tom Ameen!
Stories From the Sea is a collection of ten piano solos and piano-based pieces inspired by chapters of the book. Short passages are quoted here and there, but this album is all about the music and is beautifully done. I'm not naming favorite tracks because the whole album is excellent and it's impossible to choose favorites from any of them.
The album begins with "Evening Song For the Humpbacks" and a quote from the book about climbing a mountain and watching whales sleeping in the waters below. The gorgeous piano solo is tranquility set to music with occasional sounds from the sea adding to the peaceful atmosphere. "Ballad For Sea Shepherd" is a beautifully orchestrated piece named for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society which was formally incorporated in the state of Oregon in 1981 with the mission of marine mammal protection and conservation. The original goal was to shut down illegal whaling and sealing operations, but Sea Shepherd later expanded its mission to include all marine wildlife. "In the Quiet" refers to the contrasting lifestyles at home and on the ships where life was defined by "privacy, quiet and waiting." The piano solo is utterly peaceful and overflows with grace and beauty - a subtle reminder of how important times of quiet are to a sense of well-being. "Waiting For Justice" is piano with light orchestration and expresses a deeply poignant sense of longing. "No Boundaries" is one of the "bigger" pieces with powerful rhythms and wide-ranging emotional clout. "Cry For Freedom," a heartbreaking piece for piano and cello, conveys its message with grace and beauty. "The Peaceful Ocean" contrasts the tranquility of a quiet ocean with a sense of moving forward. Piano, guitar and strings work together seamlessly to create this feeling of a peaceful kind of energy. Stories From the Sea comes to a quiet close with the solo piano "Longing For the Sea" that describes feeling homesickness for the sea when arriving back on land. What an incredible story this album tells with only a few well-chosen words! Music is truly a magical medium and Tom Ameen has done an incredible job of proving that point!
Stories From the Sea is widely available from online retailers such as Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites such as Spotify. Great music to raise awareness for a vitally important cause!
April 24, 2021