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Voyager by Lisa Swerdlow
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 8/28/2018
Go on a Voyage with Lisa
Lisa Swerdlow is back after the chart topping success of Equus Rising, and this new musical child is born with such a sublime sense of melody and charm, it was take you by the hand and lead you to a musical wonderland of solo piano like never before, it is called Voyager.
The opening is probably the most melodic start you could ever wish for and the title track Voyager takes us a journey through time and space with such sublime precision and delicacy, it is a delight to simply be a part of this moment of musical bliss, this is utterly the best start to an album your ever likely to hear.
Swerdlow follows that up with an equally brilliant offering entitled Edge of Tranquillity. I heard this being played yesterday by my partner Chrissie and was stunned at its beautiful presence and flow. Swerdlow has a classy ability to change power and intensity seemingly at will, and is without doubt one of the most listenable pianists around today.
Mindful Moments is next, and as you would expect from the title we have a short time here to ponder the pathways of life’s rich tapestry. This can be done with ease on this most passionate and reflective opus, but one can also enjoy the moments of unbound emotion here too, these emotive energies are so powerful I personally found them awe-inspiring.
One of my favourite times of year now is autumn, it didn’t use to be, how could it be, when living in the dredges of an English grey season, but here in the Mediterranean it is a delight beyond that of gold. Here the artist performs an empowering arrangement that seems to usher out a tiring summer and then embraces the change of the new season. Autumn Speaks to Me is indeed a powerful yet moving offering, which will paint a delightful musical narrative of transformation.
There was a warm and certain smoothness on the piece Sundays in Paris, one that gives you that feeling musically, of waking to a new day and gazing at the sunny Sunday filtered autumn light streaming in through the cracks in the curtains. This track has a slight intensity within it, but one that feels as if it comes from a much loved memory. I can see that during the weeks and months ahead I will be playing this one multiple times.
We now begin the gentle voyage into the latter half of the album and come across an arrangement that is both softly played with a deliberate mindfulness and entitled Gone Too Soon. This is one of these tracks that whilst listening to it, we will each have a story of why we feel the way we do while listening to the offering. This for me is deeply moving and emotional and very imploring, one could easily get lost within the mood filled structure of this expressive composition.
As we move deeper into the labyrinths of this release we also find ourselves in the deep mid-winter and in fact at the Winter Solstice. This would be one of my favourite pieces from the release, not that I have seen any snow for many years, but through the tone and minor notes I could imagine with ease sitting by a window in December, watching the white flakes drift down from the sky and be aware of the memories of this time of year that float with a certain reflective sadness across my mind.
Into the Center is an interesting track; it starts with a little sense of mystery and then very slowly develops into a beautiful reality of ambience, one that you would be more than happy to just roam in musically for ages. There were certain changes in her performance here that I adored, a quietness partnered with a hint of intensity, but all the while, built around a wonderful reality of musical confidence. Without doubt this has to be the most technically brilliant piece off the release.
The penultimate offering off the release is called I Saw You Dancing with the Stars, apart from being one of the most attractive and artistic titles on the album, this also has to be one of the most fluent pieces, this composition has such an abundance of flow and movement within it. There is also a splendid energy of dance within the construction of her performance and arrangement here that truly makes this a really happy and all-embracing composition, one that you simply just don’t want to leave.
Sadly we must part our ways with the artist now, but before we go, we can take a trip with her to California and go on a Yuba River Journey. The impressive techniques employed by Swerdlow on this offering take us on an amazing musical narrative, and one can literally flow with the river all the way. I also believe that this region was also part of the great gold rush era of the 1850’s and one can feel all that and much more within this too; it is the longest composition off the album at just short of seven minutes long as well.
Voyager is the second release by Lisa Swerdlow on the Heart Dance Record label, but in my opinion, easily her best so far. The artist has let her duel talents of performance skill and imagination completely loose here, and it shows with one of the finest solo piano albums this year. This is a powerful release, one that really stands up and demands to be listened too. It’s a release packed wall to wall with some of the most meaningful and colourful tracks around, all bound together by the one thing that Lisa Swerdlow has in obvious abundance, passion.
Rating: Excellent
Voyager by Lisa Swerdlow
- posted by Dyan Garris on 8/22/2018
Lisa Swerdlow - Voyager
“Voyager” is the 2018 album release by composer and New Age solo pianist, Lisa Swerdlow. It’s her 2nd release on the Heart Dance Records label. She is well placed there, as she says, “I hope my music serves as a vehicle for healing the heart.”
Hailing from a musical family, Lisa has a colorful musical history, including playing piano in a rock and roll band in San Francisco in the 1970s, as well as touring with an all-female salsa band. In 2017, she released her debut solo piano album, “Equus Rising.” It was nominated for “Best Solo Piano Album, 2017,” on One World Music Radio.
The album, “Voyager,” is inspired by a story she heard about the NASA twin spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2. These are, surprisingly, still sending imagery back to Earth 40 years later instead of their originally expected 15 years.
Perhaps like a voyage through space might be, or a journey through life, the album, “Voyager,” 12 tracks, is exciting, expressive, and expansive. Each composition on “Voyager” has definitive highs and lows, engaging tempo changes, and all are brimming with verve, vitality, and vivacity. These are like little travel vignettes that speak to directly to the soul.
The “voyage” begins with the title track, “Voyager,” which is pleasantly melodic, tightly composed and played. This is a great song, with its peaks and valleys; passionate crescendos expertly interwoven with quieter moments that give us pause for reflection upon life as a journey.
Following is “Edge of Tranquility.” This is flowing and fervent, starting off quite gently and then masterfully building in its intricacies. Here is where you start to get a really good sense not only of Lisa’s absolutely phenomenal keyboarding skills, but also of her sophisticated art of composition.
“Mindful Moments” is thoughtful and emotive. “Autumn Speaks to Me” is so expertly “transportive” we can almost literally feel ourselves as leaves being tumbled by the breeze.
A few of my personal favorites on “Voyager,” are “Sunday in Paris,” which is deeply beautiful and romantic, and “Gone Too Soon,” which as the title may imply, is soulful, wistful, and nostalgic. “Winter Solstice,” track 7, is deep and luxurious, with a catchy, memorable melody, and is played in both upper and lower registers quite adroitly. Track 8, “Into the Center,” is wide, expansive, and supremely expressive. Lush and abundant, with a dreamy feel, it’s definitely not boring on any level, and showcases her impressive piano playing skills.
Most prodigious is the effervescent, “I Saw You Dancing with the Stars.” This is twinkling and sparkling, overflowing with the rich, expressive emotion we enjoy all through “Voyager,” in every composition. Lisa employs the entire piano keyboard here in an exquisite dance and celebration of life itself. Truly exhilarating, this is solo piano the way a piano is meant to be played.
The album winds up with “Yuba River Journey,” which perfectly captures the crystal clear ambiance of this body of water, known for its pristine swimming holes surrounded by smooth granite rocks.
“Voyager” is a dazzling, ever-changing soundscape that leaves you in breathless amazement. It is a true virtuoso that can paint us such lush and eloquent landscapes with an instrument. So whether from space or from Earth, or some other planet, this album is a “must have” for true solo piano lovers everywhere.

Get “Voyager” at the artist’s official website: or wherever music is sold.

Beginnings by Barbara Graff
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 8/14/2018
A unique album of quality
I have had many fascinating and unique albums land on my desk this year, it seems that artists are seeking to find uniqueness about their style and songs like never before, and I for one support that. I must say that Barbara Graff has brought something to my musical table that is incredibly unique, fun and listenable and I believe you will enjoy this as well.
It’s time to be open and prepare for something more, let’s start with what is a classic 21st century pop song, one that contains superb vocals from singer Diane Chittester and is multi-instrumental in its overall nature, this would make an absolutely fantastic single, it is of course it is the proud opener, the title track Beginnings.
This is Graff’s fourth album and this release has just about something for everyone, like the moving new age styled composition Inspiration, one of my personal favourites. The symphonic grandeur of Bring Me a Rainbow is a simple delight to bathe in as well, and the guitar joins the mix on the piece Blue Sky.
There is a real Midwestern slide guitar feel to the track By My Side that is quite charming and captivating, while a lively percussive beat raises the energies on the most powerful arrangement on the album entitled On My Own, a track that could with ease be used in a TV show.
This is one of those albums that you just can’t stop listening to, there is a huge desire to know what comes next and in what style, even the solo piano lovers are catered for with the track Magic Within and the moving and deeply emotive Dancing Shadows, another personal favourite of mine.
Two more renditions of the opening song end the album, with piano and pop versions of the title track Beginnings on offer to bring the release to a lively conclusion.
Beginnings by Barbara Graff is on the card for the most unique album of 2018 with ease, but apart from that, this is an album that really has to be listened to in depth with an open heart and mind, because what is contained within will entertain, enlighten, soothe, all in a thoughtful and positive energy, and will be guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face and a warm sense happiness in your heart.
Rating: Excellent
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