Our lives are defined by seasons. It is an undeniable truth, yet we try to live as if the passing of time has no impact on us. By doing so, we miss the beauty of each season – and, to quote everything from the Bible to modern self-help books, we are unable to “grasp the moment” and see the world for what it really is. Richard Shulman’s new album “Life Seasons” is a delightful and thought-provoking release. It is a journey from summer solstice to next year’s early spring. Shulman tells stories of love and life, making us see the seasons in a new and original way. Highly recommended!
Richard Shulman was born and raised in Niagara Falls, New York, and he began piano lessons at age seven. He has recorded 28 of his own albums as well as more than two dozen other recordings for which he has provided compositions, performances, and musical production. Shulman has performed at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Art Park, the United Nations, the Kool Jazz Festival, The Amenia Peace Festival, and a wide variety of other venues throughout North America and in Europe. His most recent albums are “A New Awareness: Music of the Twelve Rays” (2018) and “Solo Flight” (2014). About “Life Seasons” he says: “Every season has its ﬂavor and when we have had the opportunity to live enough of Life’s Seasons, something can develop in a person. A greater willingness to listen to both to one’s inner wisdom as well as to people in our lives can develop.”
The album starts with the title track. It is a retrospective piece with lyrics by Brenda Lee Morrison. On their anniversary, a couple looks back on their life together. It is more apparent than ever how their love has shaped the seasons of their lives. The song is both an introduction and a conclusion; it is on grand occasions we see the seasons – and their passing – most clearly. The melody is gorgeous, and Paula Hanke’s vocal fits perfectly. Bravo!
This first part of the album is playful and sunny. “Summer Solstice” is a carefree piece with a hint of Jazz. Even if the weather is gray and cold, close your eyes, and the music will let you experience the longest day of the year – again and again. I love the percussion, arrangement, and the laid-back piano.
The party is on! “Summer Night” is a sublime Jazz Samba, which makes it impossible to stand still. You can sense the lively atmosphere and the heat of the night. It is intoxicating – and before long, the guests are arriving on “Bohemian Summer”. The artistic and stylish company takes the summer gathering to new heights. The quartet sounds terrific, and the lyrics are a wonderful tribute to a bohemian lifestyle.
“Pre-Autumn” has a sense of melancholy, much like the first cool breeze of autumn. Not cold, but not warm either. It is an early message of what is to come. The track is more than 5 minutes, but it is gone in an instant, much like pre-autumn itself. The piece fades into “Sweet Autumn”, perhaps the best composition on the album. I love the build-up, the melody and overall energy. It is a splash of autumn colors! Very sweet indeed.
Spinning into Winter
Winter is underway. “Action!” sings Wendy Jones. This is the season for hope and new success, not about feeling sad that the summer is gone. It is a beautiful and positive painting of late fall before winter suddenly is here. I love the flute segment in the end.
“Winter Solstice” has the gentleness and poetry of a George Winston piece. On the darkest day of the year, Richard Shulman focuses on inner light. It is one of the most excellent compositions on the album, played by this master pianist. It is breathtakingly beautiful. “Velvet Shoes” is another winner! We find ourselves walking in the snow – slowly, without a worry in the world. The vocal quartet sounds terrific. The lyrics are a poem written by Elinor Wylie.
Winter Solstice Dream
“Winter Solstice Dream – Keepers of the Light” is a text by Ron Young, performed by Wendy Jones and Richard Shulman on the piano. I love how we can sense the deepest winter and still feel (with ecstatic joy!) that spring is coming.
“Hope for Spring” is a playful piece, a tribute to new life and warmer days. “Early Spring” continues in the same manner. It is over five and a half minutes long, but it is gone as fast as early spring sunshine. “The Fairy of Mystery – Blue – Springtime Blessings” is the magical album closer. The fairies make nature come to life. The circle is complete, and before we know it, summer is here again.
In conclusion: Richard Shulman’s “Life Seasons” is a mature, heartfelt and genuine release. There’s a poetry here, both in terms of lyrics and musicality, that touches the soul of the listener. As I wrote above; we live in an age where everyone wants to stay young forever, but spring and summer are only two of life’s seasons. We should embrace each season, as presented on this beautiful album. You will be moved by “Life Seasons”, guaranteed.
Score: 95/100 – See our scoring policy
For more information and music samples, visit richheartmusic.com