Listening to the new album by Evan Wish, Alone in a Crowd, I had a dawning realization; somewhere along the way, I had forgotten about what an expressive instrument the piano really is. Perhaps it is because of overuse and the many fragments of soulless piano music we all hear daily. It is hard to say. But Alone in a Crowd had me sitting at the edge of my seat from the very first note. Poetic, romantic, and inspiring, Evan Wish has delivered 10 phenomenal pieces that describe the many facets of life like no other.
Evan Wish was born in a small Canadian City named Brandon. He started at the Conservatory of Music at age 7, and it soon became apparent that he was a gifted young pianist. Playing saxophones and oboe in the city bands and orchestra also expanded his musical horizons. Evan stayed two years in France, which resulted in numerous concert dates, billed as “La passion d’un romantique,” translated to “The passion of a romantic.” Back in the US, he studied at Dick Grove School of Music in Los Angeles. He debuted in 2004 with Lullaby of Love (2004), then Forget-Me-Not, Blue followed in 2010. With many years now in the entertainment industry with Evans’ performances, writing projects, releases, master classes, features, radio interviews, teaching, and Q&A Blogs, the Internet brings his music to all ages, and added to playlists from around the world.
The album opener is called The Hill. It is both a fabulous composition and a terrific performance! It is as if we can see the hill before our inner eye, both as a physical mount and a symbol of life’s hardships. It is images we all can relate to. I love the recording and the feeling of air and space. In a world of high definition, ultra-close recordings, listening to Alone in a Crowd feels more like witnessing a concert by a true virtuoso.
Next out is the title track. It sets the atmosphere for the whole album. Still, the concept of being alone in a crowd is just one of the many emotions Wish describes. I’m impressed by the sting of it, how “real” it feels. It makes me think he could have been a poet, too, telling us about loneliness in a sea of unknown faces. But I, for one, am glad that he has chosen the piano as his medium.
Fleeting Beauty is a fascinating piece! Several fragments of a gorgeous melody take shape and disappear, coming and going, before it just fades away. It is one of those compositions that you have to listen to many times before you “get it.” (Full) August Moon Love has a nice neoclassical touch, reminiscent of the masters of the past. Its romantic vibe is delightful. (For) Just a Penny has a more modern and hard-hitting sound. It is a lot to take in, but take your time, and you will see what a bargain this is.
There is a bittersweet quality to Falling into You. It makes the listener reflect on love and how it may turn our lives upside down. The sharp chords seem to underline how everything changes; it is a fall in every sense of the word. You suddenly realize that life without that special person is impossible, unthinkable. Nowhere on the album is the romantic Evan Wish more present (and if you like what you hear, check out the pieces Lullaby of Love or Lovers Dream from his previous albums, which are amazing too!)
The following part is more reflective. Silhouette is a layer-upon-layer kind of melody that expands brilliantly from the gentle opening. It is paradoxically complex and simple at the same time, making it impossible to tell where it is going to end. Carousel is a key track, perhaps the finest on the album. It takes off from the beginning, thanks to its mesmerizing melody and flow. Notice its almost dizzying carousel effect if you think about it as a round-and-round kind of movement. It is extraordinary, to say the least. I don’t know why it is so late on the album, but I, for one, am thrilled to have discovered this musical merry-go-round. Bravo!
The laid-back Sometimes Around Midnight and the pensive I Like Us round off the album. The mix of romantic and doubtful segments makes the ending just as alluring as any of the previous eight tracks.
In conclusion: As a reviewer of music for over a decade, I had no idea that listening to an album could feel like a rediscovery of one of our culture’s most important musical instruments. But Alone in a Crowd by Evan Wish has this rare quality. Wish makes the piano, to quote Wassily Kandinsky, “cause vibrations in the soul.” It is not overly sweet nor drenched in melancholy, but – to use a cliché – showing us how life really is; a carousel of emotions, ideas, and expectations. It is all there on Alone in a Crowd if you open your ears and heart. Pieces like Carousel, The Hill, and Falling Into You instantly found their way to my private playlist of piano favorites – and I’m sure many will have the same experience.
One would think that Alone in a Crowd is a sad album – and that impression stays with you for some time until you realize that this is just one of the multitude of emotions Evan Wish explores in his music. It is a rich and deeply poetic album with an almost limitless replay value. As indicated by the cover photo, this is just as much a performance – or a concert, if you will – than a studio recording. The open-ended I Like Us will for sure inspire many to look for the replay button. Highly recommended!
For more information and music samples, visit evanwish.com.