After all, I've been listening to the likes of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, BTO and others since the early 1970s. Since then I've picked up a taste for UFO, KISS, Scorpions, Winger, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, P.O.D, Machinae Supremacy, Nanowar, and an entire host of metal bands that carry on the hard traditions of the early days. It's almost a given that if you were to ride in my truck, chances are there would be an axe grinding on the stereo. It's just me. Old habits die hard, or not at all.
It might come as a surprise to some that I also like it soft. From time to time I prefer music that doesn't bounce an eardrum, fuzz out an SG on overload, or incorporate a cowbell. Sometimes the quiet life is exactly what I need. For some reason I'm fond of Windham Hill recordings from the late 1970s and early 1980s. I'm specific about the time period because I haven't bought a Windham Hill disc in over 20 years. I know...it's like an F350 driver admitting that he likes to drive his wife's Miata. Think what you like; I'm comfortable with who I am. If you're not familiar with the Windham Hill sound, think of stripped down melodies, built from piano and very little else. The songs can evoke the vision of an old house in winter, a wood floor and a warm fire after dark, or the feeling of your loved one nearby. Sure, the dichotomy is obvious here. Who would have thought a middle-aged headbanger with an English degree would take to the light sounds of piano and flute? Go figure.
Maybe it's the melodies. Maybe it's the choice of notes, or possibly even the memories that surround me whenever I hear songs done in this style. No matter what the reason might be, Kendra Springer's freshman effort "Hope" is a great one to sample the sound. While some piano players are mechanically proficient, in these songs I hear style and feeling. Not perfect, but then I'm not asking it to be. What I ask for in a recording of this kind is to cry. Seriously. I want to shed a tear with every key change. I want the song to tell a story to my soul without a single word. The feeling can be in every keystroke, chord change, or the echoing fade as the song finishes. Perfection doesn't do that. Soul and spirit do. In the title song you can hear the sadness, the desire for companionship, and the long gaze into a future that may or may not include the love sought with a desperate fervency. And the story continues, track after track. It speaks successfully to the heart of a man who is approaching his 40th anniversary of hearing Zeppelin for the first time. Any ivory commando who can do that gets a ribbon, and a post on this blog.
Try it for yourself. This is music for winding down. If your wound tight (like I am sometimes), close your eyes and hear the story that the piano tells. You might have to listen to the album a couple times, but it's worth the repeat as I hear something different each round. Download from the Music Link posted below, or listen to it right here if you see the embedded player.
I think you'll find that a fuzzed-out SG isn't a requirement when speaking to your soul.
Artwork Credit: billtex48
Music Link: http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/55571?refuid=630488
Artist Link: http://www.kendraspringer.com/