Love’s River Laura Sullivan 2013 / Sentient Spirit Records 54.7 minutes
"Love’s River" is pianist/composer Laura Sullivan’s sixth release and the first since her 2008 album, "Close to Home." Sullivan certainly hasn’t been idle the past five years, as she wrote an excellent piano teaching method book for children and has been composing music for television and films in addition to raising her young daughter. Four of the pieces on "Love’s River" were produced by the legendary Will Ackerman (who also plays guitar on one track), and those four tracks also feature the stellar backing musicians from Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studio, Eugene Friesen on cello and Jill Haley on English horn. Jeff Oster also appears on two tracks playing trumpet and flugel horn, and Nancy Rumbel appears on two playing English horn and oboe. The music on "Love’s River" is warm and inviting, soothing and uplifting, and should ensure Sullivan’s place in the upper echelons of contemporary pianists.
"Love’s River" begins with “Secrets From the Deep,” a lilting waltz for piano and English horn (the wonderful Nancy Rumbel). The minor key gives it a mysterious feel, but it isn’t a dark or edgy piece. Actually, this is one of my favorite tracks - I love the swirling movement and bittersweet melody. “Wishing On a Dandelion” begins as a piano solo, with light bells and other orchestration added as the piece develops. Bright, cheerful, and carefree, I really like this one, too! “Blessed” is a lovely duet for piano and guitar (Ackerman). The sensitivity and gentle touch of the artists make this a blissfully peaceful piece. The title track is a trio for piano, English horn (Haley), and cello (Friesen). The gently flowing rhythm and lyrical melody make this a soothing delight. “Calligraphy” clocks in at just over eight minutes and conveys the freedom and spontaneity of an improvisation. This one also features Friesen and his cello in an elegant duet with the piano. The delicate and magical “Snowfall on Water” closes the album with another wonderful duet for piano and cello. As the piece evolves, it becomes more intense and then gradually tapers off to a whisper - a perfect ending to an exceptional album.
"Love’s River" is available from Amazon and iTunes. Recommended!