Dancing At The Gate

Dana Cunningham

Independent release, 2001


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Here's an interesting question: How do you help someone feel the power of God without uttering a single word?

Pianist Dana Cunningham seems to have the answer to this question. A Christian in her upbringing, she takes the messages she has grown up with and internalized and presents them in soft, contemplative piano works which make up her independent CD Dancing At The Gate. In a time where so many people may question whether God is really present through all of the pain and turmoil the world is going through, Cunningham takes her simple yet beautiful melodies and gets the message through better than any fire-and-brimstone bandit on television.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The best part about this is that you don't have to be religious to appreciate Cunningham's music - even if you only gain an appreciation for her skills on the piano, that's okay. Cunningham reminds me a lot of early Jim Brickman, where the melody helps to paint a picture in one's mind that you can be transported to at a moment's notice. Tracks like "Light On Water," "Surrender," "Welcome To The World (Song For Ava Grace)" and "Unfolding Journey" all have such a calming presence that the listener can't help but tune in to gain tranquility.

In a sense, this could also be seen as the biggest pitfall that Cunningham will face, especially on Dancing At The Gate. Too often, it's easy to let this music become the background to our day - loud enough where we'll pay some attention to it, but mostly oblivious to the effects it may have on our psyches. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but when I pick up such a disc, I want to focus in on every note that's being played. When the music seems to be pushing me back towards continuing with my daily routine, it's a bit distracting.

While I do like the way that Cunningham comes full circle near the end with "Night On Water," I wonder if this should have been the closer to this disc, instead of ending it one song later with "Presence". On the other hand, I can also see the scenario where "Night On Water" signifies the nearing of the end of the day, and "Presence" brings us to that end.

I don't consider myself to be even a good Christian, and I personally have had some major differences of opinion with my Catholic upbringing, but I do remember a Bible story where God isn't heard in the thunder, fire or water - but in the gentle breeze of the wind. Cunningham's music should serve as a wake-up call to all the Jesus-freak thieves on television and those wringing their hands on the pulpits: sometimes, the most powerful voice is one of the quietest. Dancing At The Gate is a wonderful example, and is a very enjoyable collection of music. What you get out of it is completely up to you.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2002 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 Independent release, and is used for informational purposes only.