Reviewed by Darla Bower
The fourteen original piano solos on Reflecting Forward by Marvel’s own words “represents emotions and reflections throughout the year…..the album to me represents pain, anger, realization, healing, peace, love and renewal.” The liner notes and the poem on the inside of the cover are a powerful read and set the stage for an excellent musical experience. It’s a rarity that an album comes along where I have trouble picking just a few pieces to comment on and review, this album fits that description so buckle up. There were so many favorites that I had to narrow it down, which was a difficult task.
The powerful album begins with the title track Reflecting Forward. The intro gave me a pleasant carpe diem moment where dramatic pauses give way to a gentle yet strong lyrical presentation. It was my seize the day moment and encouraged me the listener to keep moving forward in life no matter what happens. This piece gives an honest introduction to a journey that Marvel has been on personally. It is stunning!
The second piece that grabbed my attention was Forgotten. It made me feel both warm and contemplative. Ryan with his soft touch whispers over the keys and captures gracefully the nostalgic moments in time. I loved it. Conflict is my next favorite on the album. The plucking of the piano strings was unexpected and breathtaking. I loved the sound of the contrast of the strings and keys. The contrast to me representing conflict within. When the sound of the plucking turns to the keys, the voice within is released into the sound of the keys. In a discussion with Ryan the point here I think is the voicing of the piano being related to what is heard when your own voice is released and heard after being silent. I heard both the challenge, conflict and release within this piece that musically represents his life. A beautiful contrast painted on the keys of the piano. I loved the color and tones of this song.
One of the most powerful pieces to me on the album was Apology. According to Ryan, he is proud of what this piece represents both musically and emotionally. I loved the arpeggio’s in the piece. The timbre of this song is deep and dark evoking many different emotions throughout. The lyrical presentation of words that cannot be spoken but rather are gleaned and expressed on the piano. This track is a reminder of the mastery and command that this artist has of the piano. It was my wow moment on the album. This piece had different elements of the masters woven throughout and it was very appealing to me the listener, drawing me in.
Apology ended up being my favorite on the album.
Each piece on the album represented such different array of sentiments expressed musically by this talented composer. Reflecting Forward is a remarkable and raw representation of Ryan’s journey over the past year painted on the canvas of the piano at the hands of a gracious master. Reflecting Forward is SPECTACULAR and is one of my top picks for 2017 to close out the year.