"Storm" is Tim Neumark’s fifth solo piano album and goes in a somewhat different direction from his previous releases. Wanting to step outside of his comfort zone, Neumark challenged himself to write music with a different emotional depth, including anger and heartbreak, and pieces that are mostly in minor keys. Although the music has been influenced by events in his own life and the lives of others around him, Neumark says that this album is not autobiographical, but is dedicated to anyone who has experienced any of life’s difficulties and set-backs. The music describes “a journey from hope to disappointment, and ultimately to healing” (from the liner notes). It’s no secret that I often prefer music that is on the dark side, so this could easily be my favorite of Neumark’s recordings (so far). Don’t get me wrong - this is NOT a depressing collection of piano solos. The emotions vary, and the feeling is often more of looking inward for answers rather than plunging into the darkest depths or feeling completely hopeless. I would say that the overall feeling of the album is one of compassion and empathy, although there are several very turbulent and “stormy” moments. Fellow pianists will be happy to learn that there is also a companion sheet music book available.
"Storm" begins with “Anticipation,” a beautifully-flowing piece with a variety of themes that feel anxious and restless. “Ice” is a favorite - this chill is definitely on the inside, expressing loss and hurt. “See You Soon” seems to be smiling through tears, trying to be strong but unable to hide the sadness. “Setting Sail” turns up the intensity and drama with a lively pace and a sense of excitement. “Stolen” is heartbreaking - a close friend or loved one unburdening and speaking from the heart. “Transitions” steps up the tempo and energy level to one of action and moving forward - I really like this one, too! Neumark always includes a shorter meditation piece on his albums, and this time it’s “Calm.” Again looking inward as acceptance of the situation and healing begin, it’s a soothing beauty. The title track starts out slowly and menacingly, becomes turbulent, calms, builds intensity, becomes ferocious, calms, and then races to a very dramatic ending. (I’m looking forward to seeing Neumark play this one live!) The first couple of themes of “Adrift” are slow and very sad, expressing loss and pain as anger seems to build. Suddenly, we’re in extreme darkness, lost in swirling emotions. A catharsis seems to take place, taking us to a much calmer place. The last two tracks, “Forgiveness” and “Peace” take us to the other side of the storm, once again able to see the sun and feel the gentle breezes - healing and ready to go on.
Tim Neumark has created quite a story without words with "Storm"! It is available from www.timneumark.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!