There is always a time when solo piano fits the bill perfectly, that moment for me came this afternoon, after listening to an album of dark intent and then gazing at the news headlines of 2020, that’s never a good idea, so I gave myself to the moment and decided to dive in deep with the debut album from Philip Campbell, entitled Songs for Elodie, and was extremely happy I did so.
Now while there is a strong link to the U.S style of what can be described New Age piano, I actually found Campbell’s style and performances refreshing and absolutely original, with warm musical narratives like the opener Sweet Dreams, the artistic deep and reflective moods created by No Way Out, and the stylish and mesmeric performance of arrangements like Strange, the latter with a little classical flair in the weave as well.
This is what is special about Campbell and what he has to offer, the traditional solo piano and those much loved New Age overtones and motifs are all there, but masterfully brought up to date with a little classical styling, and pieces like Daydream and Gentle are but two fine examples that will back up my aforementioned statement.
Campbell also has a talent for manifesting a fluent narrative into a song as well, Almost Home was my composition of choice with respect to that comment, and a piece I never wanted to leave, it is both powerful and tender at the same time.
Songs for Elodie from the Northern Irish composer Philip Campbell, is a delightful collection of new solo piano music that you must really add to your music collections as soon as possible, especially if you’re a seeker of truly beautiful and moving music, and this being the artists debut album, makes this even more exceptional. I am sure that his daughter, whom the album is named after, will be proud of her father’s first musical manifestation, it is certainly a winner for me.
by Steve Sheppard (One World Music Radio)
The album opens with “Sweet Dreams,” a tranquil lullaby featuring a sweet melody singing over a gently swaying left hand. Borne from hours spent soothing his daughter to sleep by gently humming a lullaby, this piece took me back to the days of rocking my own children to sleep in the wee hours of the night. The melancholy “No Way Out” is tinged with anguish and desperation; the music becomes quite intense, almost argumentative at times, and there are brief references to Chopin’s “Revolutionary Etude.” But the piece ends quietly, with an air of resignation.
A butterfly’s “chrysalis” is a well-known symbol of transition, and Campbell’s piece bearing the same name is a musical representation of the change. It opens in the dark lower registers of the piano, grows in severity, perhaps invoking life’s challenge and difficulties. A gradual climbing up the keyboard is followed by the thematic material from the opening played more slowly and more gently, indicating a successful transition into a thing of beauty. The haunting “Strange” captures that eerie, unsettling sensation – almost bordering on fear – experienced in the presence of something unknown and unfamiliar.
“Melody for Elodie, the last piece Campbell composed before his daughter was born and expresses pure joy and wonder, and is followed by “Daydream,” a soaring, compelling creation of Campbell’s imagination. More improvisational in nature than the rest of the pieces on the album, its fanciful melody rises and falls in surprising and unexpected ways.
One of my favorite pieces on the album, “Gentle” is charming in its simplicity, achingly tender and soothingly sweet. Another favorite, “Seeking, begins questioningly, builds in intensity fraught with strife and turmoil, and ends peacefully, as if that which was being sought has been found.
“Almost Home” perfectly captures that emotion experienced at the end of a journey, eagerly anticipating reuniting with the places and people a traveler holds most dear. “Clouds” is meandering and dreamy, put me in mind of lazy childhood afternoons spent lying on my back in our grassy backyard, gazing up into the sky and imagining all sorts of scenes floating by in the clouds. The shortest piece on the album, “The Journey,” clocking in at just over a minute and thirty seconds, brings the album to a succinct and satisfying conclusion.
Striving to develop both as a performer and a human being as he revisits unfinished projects and learns to be the best father he can be, Philip Campbell seems to have found his true path and I am already looking forward to future releases. Very highly recommended!
by Pam Asberry (Enlightened Piano Radio)