Today I want to talk about one of my favorite piano albums from the last few years: Dan Kennedy’s debut album Lantern (2007). New Age Solo Piano is not an easy genre. You have to have a lot of courage and determination to compete with masters like George Winston, David Lanz and Edgar Meyer. But the hardest part is perhaps to create something new, something with identity. But I guess that none of this was a problem for Dan Kennedy, sitting behind a 1976 Steinway Model B with Will Ackerman as producer. Location: Imaginary Road Studios, Windham County, Vermont. Under such conditions, I guess Dan Kennedy had to create something truly great for his debut release.
Lantern is a short album; 19 minutes divided into four tracks. From the very first rapid G notes on the first track you can hear and feel Dan Kennedy’s piano skills. The Steinway is played with identity, giving each song a special touch; youthful and mature at the same time.
The first track Dulcimer In G is fresh and full of life like the first day of summer. Here Glen Velez plays percussion and T-Bone Wolk bass. Samite gives a nice vocal. So the opening track is not strictly speaking “solo piano” – but the Steinway has the leading role. The thing I like best about the opening track, is that the intensity varies much; more than once you think that the track is ending – and then it starts again. A very good effect. The drum is also nice.
Track number two, Ballad, is different. It is slow and full of feelings. It is a bit sad, but thoughtful is a better word to describe it. Here you can enjoy the rich sound of the Steinway. The track is little over three minutes long, and is over before you know it. Beautiful and sad at the same time. Dear Girl is like a love letter. In the beginning you can almost hear the boy telling about his love and his passions through the sound of the piano. Then there is a shift, where the mood becomes lighter. Perhaps the girl is finally responding with a smile? The ending is gentle.
The last track, Cycle, is fast and played quite hard. Noah Wilding’s beautiful vocal adds a layer to the song. It is a good track to round up the album with, since it has that certain element of conclusion; there is almost an ending around 1m40sec and then this theme is repeated at 5m30sec.
Yes, the album is short – but not too short. I am not saying that a couple of more tracks wouldn’t be nice, but that Lantern is a complete album in every way. In a world where most new artists need 14 tracks and at least 60 minutes, it is in a way refreshing to find someone who uses 4 tracks and 20 minutes to perfection.
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