Saturday, August 7, 2010

CD Review -- The Renewing, by Isaac Shepard

The Renewing is a nice collection of pleasant solo piano instrumentals, the third such CD offering by Isaac Shepard.

The set gets off to a strong start with "Tears Can Fall." Tears can fall, but they won’t, because the track is a formidable musical statement full of confidence and optimism. After that, Shepard settles into a comfortable zone with pretty compositions that blend seamlessly into one another, all the while displaying this sensitive artist’s competence and chops.

The album then undergoes a renewing of its own in its second half as the compositions become really complex and introspective, weaving a musical tapestry that creates unique stories and journeys in the minds of each listener. The most dynamic of these tracks is "Countdown," which, as a result, is the most dynamic track on the entire album. The tune is defined by a pointed, driven, and urgent melody that gives the composition a cinematic feel. In fact, this track would make a great main and end title theme for a motion picture.

Even as the album is winding down, it is still ramping up, culminating with "Slow Down." The track provides a satisfying conclusion to the album while leaving the listener with anticipation for what Shepard has in store next. Speaking of which, it will be interesting to see what direction Shepard takes his music in. He definitely has the compositional and instrumental chops to score television and film soundtracks and lead a jazz trio or a bigger fusion band.

The Renewing will most likely appeal to aficionados of solo piano music. For those not so inclined but that like fine musical compositions regardless of genre or instrumentation, perhaps they will like individual songs like the highly recommended Tears Can Fall, Countdown, and Slow Down.

--Raj Manoharan

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