No Words

Jim Brickman

Windham Hill Records, 1994

http://jimbrickman.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/18/2001

I have always found solo piano music to be some of the most beautiful out there. At the same time, there's always a twinge of melancholy as well. We're all familiar with what so many news organizations do whenever someone of note dies; in all of their tribute programming, the background music is often just a piano playing.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And so, it seemed a bit weird for me to choose No Words, the 1994 debut effort from Jim Brickman, to be the first disc I listened to in its entirety following the events of the past few days. While the music is absolutely beautiful, it did strike more than a chord of sadness in me - and while I'm certain that Brickman created this disc to reflect gentle images of his life that all could relate to, this disc takes on a new air altogether.

In a sense, this isn't fair to Brickman. No Words is merely meant to be a collection of 12 original works that try and capture portraits in the gentle waves of the grand piano. It is supposed to take you to scenes of waterfront beauty, images of fields of wheat awaiting the harvest, and even offer a poignant reminder of things which have been lost.

No Words can indeed do this, it is true - but even listening to the disc prior to September 11, it almost felt like there was an underlying sense of sadness to some of the music. Tracks like "Open Doors" and "I Said You Said" have the power to move a listener to tears if the mood is just right. That being said, No Words can also have the opposite effect, and serve as a soundtrack to romance, as songs like "Rocket To The Moon" and "Shaker Lakes" prove.

Brickman's style of playing isn't one of musical mastery of the piano, making it do things that even Beethoven never dreamed about. No, Brickman's style of playing is more mid-line (though I don't dare call it simplistic, having served 10 years in piano lesson hell), emphasizing more of the emotion of the notes rather than technical precision. By doing so, Brickman becomes the New Age composer for the Everyman, and creates a disc that you could literally put on the stereo for any occasion, in any personal mood.

Rating: A-

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© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Windham Hill Records, and is used for informational purposes only.