20 year after the release of Opal Fire, Omar Akram is still ahead of the cruve and capable of delivering eye-opening musical experiences. On his new release Moments of Beauty, love and romantic emotions are still important inspirations. But it is a mature release that also deals with the passage of time, sorrow and mortality. Moments of Beauty is without a doubt one of 2023’s finest New Age music releases and a fantastic addition to Omar Akram’s discography.
Omar Akram‘s piano-driven, instrumental music elegantly defies borders and has played a crucial role in defining modern New Age and World music. Omar’s first two studio albums, Opal Fire (2002) and Free As A Bird (2004), charted in the Top 15 on Billboard’s New Age chart. In 2013, Omar became the first Afghan-American to win Grammy for Best New Age Album for Echoes Of Love. That same year, Daytime Dreamer was released. Destiny followed in 2019. About his 2021 album Light Will Come, where COVID-19 and the murder of George Floyd are main topics, we here on Newagemusic.guide wrote that: “The album describes the time we live in brilliantly – and 10 or 20 years from now, it will be a testament to what we felt during this challenging time in our history.”
Moments of Beauty
The title track opens the album. Moments of Beauty is that kind of track Omar Akram does better than anyone. Don’t let the gentle piano in the introduction fool you; before long, a mighty, neo classical masterpiece unveils itself like magic! The theme will make any moment beautiful, no matter the circumstances. The track gives a taste of everything that follows, from joy to sadness and everything in-between. The strings, performed by Niagara String Quartet, sound magnificent. Notice the drums and percussion too. A moment of beauty indeed!
Next out is a thoughtful ballad called Passage of Time. It is a well-balanced piece where both melancholy and gratitude share the limelight. It is deeply moving and a fantastic musical representation of one of the most complex topics there is; Time. I think Akram really nails it and makes us see how time changes everything. The melancholia continues on Dancing On My Own. If you pay attention though, you will sense a shift around 2 minutes and 5 seconds; sadness is seamlessly replaced by positivity. Suddenly dancing alone is not so bad after all. Being alone has turned into something productive and good.
Moments of Beauty is, as I wrote above, filled with life lessons – and when you arrive at Sorrow, the album is at its darkest; It is as if the piano is crying. Soon cello and violin join in to comfort. The melody is beautiful beyond words. But don’t take my word for it. Check it out yourself:
The slow Promises makes us reflect on the many social contracts that we deal with in our lives. The melody flows beautifully, perhaps indicating that promises kept are worth more than gold. It is such a brilliant piece and I found myself putting it on replay to appreciate the melody’s many twists and turns, unwilling to go on.
The touching Special Gift seems heaven-sent, especially after tracks such as Sorrow. The expertly crafted melody feels like a unique present from Omar Akram to the world.
We have arrived at the last part of the album. The following three pieces are contemplative and philosophical. There are many ways to interpret the quiet Mystery. Perhaps it is about the many secrets of the heart and the biggest mystery of all; Love? It is followed by the hopeful Someday. The piece is a genuine positivity boost. Notice how effortlessly the melody connects with the listener, right from the start.
The monumental Walking Free rounds off the album. From the mournful beginning rises a magnificent and deeply inspiring theme. The orchestral arrangement is amazing! The vocals by Merry Taheri Akram, Aria Akram and Aron Akram, plus the children’s laughter, are terrific too. It is fascinating how the somber melody now have a positive and upbeat sound, indicating that all the hardship and negative experiences turned into something good, strong and everlasting. There is a lot of life wisdom in that.
In conclusion: “Moons and years pass by and are gone forever, but a beautiful moment shimmers through life a ray of light,” Franz Grillparzer said. That same light seems to shine on each of the 10 tracks on Moments of Beauty. Akram’s musical storytelling is moving, heartfelt and sharp. The cover artwork by Glen Wexler doesn’t lie: Akram has a remarkable eye for details. It is yet another winner by this one-of-a-kind artist.
Even though the album is called Moments of Beauty, it is not all rose red. I very much enjoy how well-balanced it is. There are, as mentioned above, segments dealing with unreciprocated love, loss and sorrow. It makes it into a very interesting listen.
Moments of Beauty is an album with a vision. It makes us see life in all its shades, both the ying and the yang. Without sorrow we can’t really know love, without darkness we would not know the light. Omar Akram’s music captures it all.
For more information and music samples, see omarakram.com.