Many solo piano releases have a timeless quality. The genre usually rises above current events, focusing on constants such as the passing of seasons or the experience of emotions such as love and loss. Omar Akram’s new album “The Light Will Come”, which is being released today, is radically different. It is inspired by the events and effects of the recent world pandemic – and the piece “For George” is a composition dedicated to the memory of George Floyd. The piano pieces are delicate, soothing, and, most importantly, profoundly optimistic – promising us that after all this darkness, the light will come.
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 Best New Age Album for “Echoes Of Love“. That same year, the “Daytime Dreamer” album was released. In 2019, Omar returned with “Destiny“, an album produced by legendary producer Walter Afanasieff.
See New Age Music Guide’s full Omar Akram coverage here.
The Light Will Come
The studio album consists of ten live solo piano performances recorded in 2020 as a part of the popular “Omar’s Music Chamber show” on Youtube. The title track opens the album. Much of Akram’s previous music has a thoughtful atmosphere, and the intro to “The Light Will Come” is quite dreamy. But it doesn’t take long before the melody starts moving and takes the listener on quite a ride. On some of the high notes, Akram is muting the piano string, which is a very nice effect. I love how improvisation makes the melody flow. It is a brilliant album opener, a genuine solo piano jewel!
All the pieces are long, giving the album a generous feel. It is ideal for thinking, reading, or creative work. Next out is “For George”. It is without a doubt the most interesting piece here. We all know the context (Wikipedia: the murder of George Floyd). The melody starts slowly, then almost stops, as if following a line of thought. We can sense how disbelief turns into anger, something we all feel when seeing the video of the incident. But the anger doesn’t last long; it transforms into something existential and larger-than-life, commenting on the fragility of life and how evil deeds have long-lasting consequences. “For George” is a deeply moving piece and one of Akram’s finest compositions ever.
Hear My Heart
How to continue after a piece like “For George”? “Hear My Heart” is the perfect answer to that question. Its sorrowful edge is like therapy, and before you know it, lighter emotions come rolling out of Akram’s piano. I guess it is a result of actually hearing what “My Heart” has to say.
Akram is a master in breaking a sad atmosphere and transforming it into a genuinely happy melody. A melancholy hangs in the air as “For Mary” begins, but it is not to last. Brighter notes start to arrive, and suddenly the mood has changed. It is the definition of “The Light Will Come”.
Taking a break from the Covid19 situation, “Waterfall” makes the mind wander. Each note is like a drop in this musical and magical waterfall. One of my favorite pieces on this album is “Since I Met You”. There seem to be more stories here than in a thick novel. We already knew that Akram was a master storyteller, so that came as no surprise. I love its dynamic build-up and many twists and turns.
With “Wish I Could See You” the current situation is back with a vengeance. It sums up quarantine life brilliantly. “Pressing On” inspires the listener with its brave, almost uncompromising sound. Akram plays unusually hard on the piano, further underlining the theme. It makes the soft playing, in the end, stand out as if commenting on the human aspect. To press on, you need to rely on yourself and know in your heart that you are doing the right thing. The piece captures all these conflicting emotions.
The ending contains two pieces that are Omar Akram’s music in a nutshell. The reflective “Caught Dreaming” might seem uncomplicated at first. But soon, you realize that there is a complexity here, right under the surface. When you start looking, you will see that this is Art with a capital A. “New Morning Sun” is the light we were promised in the title. It is an intense and almost beaming composition, performed by a world-class virtuoso. We are so lucky to have Mr. Akram in our genre!
In conclusion: “The Light Will Come” by Omar Akram is, in short, a monumental release! It 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. “The Light Will Come” proves that Akram is one of the finest New Age music artists ever.
It might sound like a cliché, but if you only listen to one solo piano this year, make sure that it Akram’s latest. It is not timeless. No, it is the definition of now. Bravo!
For more information and music samples, visit omarakram.com