Sunday, August 8, 2010

CD Review -- Longing for Home: Songs from War, by Peter Jennison

If you’re looking for a unique perspective of life on the battlefield, look no further than the new CD release, Longing for Home: Songs from War, by Peter Jennison. Written by the Army captain and MEDEVAC pilot during his tour of duty in Iraq, the album provides an unusual and moving look into the mind of a young man serving his country far from home, fighting every second to stay alive and yearning to return to his loved ones.

People may not feel the exact same things listening to the album that Jennison did writing it, nor can they, but the tracks do convey some sense of what it must be like to live and work and fight and hope in that situation. The opening tune, “War,” alternates between moments of tranquility and moments of urgency. “Desert Storms” suggests the brief moments of cool relief from the oppressive heat of the arid climate. The album’s closer, “Anthem (When We All Come Home),” is exactly that, a stirring anthem in anticipation of final, ultimate peace.

The album also features beautiful musical tributes to those people whom Jennison was determined to return to: his mother (“High Mountain Dreams”), his son (“Hold Me in Your Heart”), and his wife (“The One [Love Song Across the Horizon]”). On a non-familial note, the quiet reverie of “Solitary Peace” was inspired by one of Jennison’s musical influences, guitarist and Windham Hill Records/Private Music founder Will Ackerman, who produced the album.

Speaking of production, Jennison is backed by an impressive lineup of musicians, including the late bassist T-Bone Wolk (Hall & Oates, Saturday Night Live), percussionist Jeff Haynes (Pat Metheny Group), and Ackerman, among others. This ensemble creates beautiful arrangements that add wonderful nuances to Jennison’s graceful melodies.

Although the central instrument here is Jennison’s piano, the focus is the music, which is broadly appealing and thus should be accessible to most tastes. People who buy the album will not only be supporting a worthy artist and good music, but a good cause as well, as portions of the proceeds will go to support veterans and their families.

--Raj Manoharan

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