Half the Sky
Reviewed by Cathy Oakes
February 19, 2014
This is Eric’s first adventure into solo music. His background comes from rock and alternative rock. His compositions, to this point have been for promotional clips and backgrounds for video. I spoke with Eric in a phone conversation recently. He tells me that this music was actually written for his wife and he really didn’t think about other people hearing it as he sat down to write. A few of the pieces are completely improvisational – done in one take, just sitting at his keyboard.
Most of the music was written after Eric and his wife moved from Colorado to the Seattle area of Washington. He says that everything was different and new. There was no sense of familiarity in his surroundings. The music on this CD expresses his venture through the physical and emotional adjustment to his new home – both good and bad. He purposely went exploring without any idea where he would end up. He ventured out into the surrounding beauty of the Pacific Northwest and those ventures influenced and inspired his music. Through the notes and phrases, Eric expresses his “out of your comfort zone – in a peaceful way” experience.
Eric writes his music for himself and for his wife. He is not bound by “traditional” form or progressions. What he expresses is uniquely his. He records on a midi keyboard and freely experiments with the sounds and moods that can be electronically created.
The first track, Compass and Cards was written about a camping trip. The title comes from the two things that one never forgets when packing for a camping trip – the compass and the playing cards. Track two, Cape Flattery is a tribute to the place where Eric and his wife got engaged. Track six, Painted Daylight has an easy, jazzy feel that I found very pleasant. Track seven, Pend Orielle is written in tribute to a lake in Indiana and its French name. Tracks nine and ten were completely improvisational. Both were recorded in one take, as the emotions rolled over Eric’s keyboard.
Being somewhat of a “solo piano” snob, I had a bit of difficulty relating to Eric’s music at first. However, as I continued to listen, it “grew” on me and I found myself whistling his subtle melodies as I went about my day. His style and non-traditional form pushed me “out of my comfort zone – in a peaceful way.” This was a good thing, in my opinion.
I think that Eric gave a brave and valiant effort in his first journey into the solo world. I hope he continues to gift us with his talent and adventurous sounds. I give this CD 3 out of 5 stars and look forward to hearing more from Eric Smith.