This album is a musical journey worth listening to in its entirety several times. Pianist Elise Lebec is accompanied with cello by David Darling, flugelhorn by Jeff Oster, and other musicians. The listener is carried to a different place from when the music was cued up.

There are fourteen tracks, from two to six minutes in length. The music moves through subtle gradations of moods and emotions. The album begins with fairly spare tracks that feature the piano alone or with another instrument or two. Midway through the album, at “Ghost Ships” the music shifts to a mystical mix of synth and strings. This song is film soundtrack-worthy and enormously compelling. After a few more piano-instrument tracks, the album turns left at “Sacred Lands,” which includes some vocal chanting, a spoken prayer, and ambient music effects. It ends with the sound of rain, a storm, and waves crashing on a beach. The final four tracks return to lyrical folk-type songs played on the piano with occasional riffs from other musicians.

This album is neo-classical and romantic in content and texture. Vocals are very minimal. The emphasis is on the piano and instrumental work. The music reveals the influence of Debussy, Ravel, and Erik Satie with Lebec’s particular pianistic techniques and floating modal harmonies. The fusion of the other instruments and the effects from them is, however, the give-away modern detail in the album. The combination of influences of the early 20th century impressionist and post-romantic composers blends quite well with touches of instrumental jazz and folk-song musical structures.

The overall effect is romantic and pensive. It’s very beautiful collection of songs that drift in and out of emotions. The CD’s cover photo of a woman standing alone on a beach pretty much sums up the impact of the music. If you recall the movie “The Piano” (Holly Hunter, 1993), Lebec’s album is a further exposition of the theme of how the moods of oceanic tides and the remoteness of a beach can inspire music. The deep calls to the deep.

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Artist: Elise Lebec
Tabitha Lebec Publishing 2014
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