Late in 2013, I followed a link on YouTube more in hope than expectation. An invitation to listen to 'beautiful piano music' is one I come across on a daily basis and inevitably can often end in disappointment. However, from the opening bars, on this occasion I was hooked. I listened to the piece in its entirety somewhat in awe that not only was the music new to me, but so was the composer. That man was Eamonn Karran. Another piece caught my eye, and having listened to a second equally appealing melody, I was left in no doubt that this composer deserved a wider audience. I was thinking, "He should be signed up by a major record label!" Imagine my surprise then when, upon doing a little detective work, I discovered that Eamonn had indeed recently been signed to Real Music, and was due to release his debut CD, Distant Sun under their name just a few months later. Those folks at Real Music in the USA have great taste...
So, just who is this Eamonn Karran? A married father of five from Derry in Northern Ireland, Eamonn has been playing the piano since he was seven. He would listen to music on the radio as a child and taught himself to play, developing his own unique style in the process. After going through a phase of listening to and playing electronic music, it was whilst he was on holiday in 1994 that he heard a piece of piano music that was so inspirational and powerful to Eamonn, that a change of musical direction ensued, and the love-affair with the piano was reignited with absolute passion. To this day, Eamonn is clueless as to the identity of the music. However, its impact was immense.
A true family man, Eamonn regards his wife and children as intrinsic to the creative process. The piano is almost part of the family: "I simply love the instrument. Its tone can uplift or sadden in a moment." But it was a life-changing incident in 2011 that prompted him to dedicate his life to creating spiritual, healing music. A serious car crash ended his job as a taxi-driver in an instant, and after much anguish, Eamonn together with his wife Joanne, came to the realisation that he should dedicate his life to composing music that can heal, offer comfort and inspire.
And so Distant Sun was born.
This wonderful album commences with a lovely piano solo. “Autumn Fall's” opening evokes images of leaves gently falling to the ground. Shortly past the 2:00 mark comes a melody that lovers of Ludovico Einaudi will simply adore. This track is as delicate as the fluttering leaves swaying from side to side that descend gracefully from the Autumn-tinted trees.
“Derry Waltz” would not be out of place on fellow Irishman Phil Coulter's Lake of Shadows album. It has a real Celtic feel from start to finish. The piece features Fin Drumm on uilleann pipes in addition to Eamonn's Yamaha P105B piano and MO6 Workstation. I love the bridge and the simple melody which certainly captures the heart of the composer's homeland.
“Ascension” has a Gregorian chant sound to its opening, and is a deeply spiritual piece. Largely electronic, it has a floating in the air feel about it. The piano does make an appearance at the four minute mark and closes out the piece in style.
One of my favourite tracks is “Our Journey.” This is a piece to savour, like life itself. It is solo piano, and its beauty lies in its simplicity.
It was news to me that Ireland is regarded as one of the best places in Europe to see whales. I know Eamonn holds nature dear to his heart, and I would not be surprised if a whale-spotting experience inspired him to write the album's fifth track — “Dance of the Orca.” Featuring whale sounds at various points, this piece captures the majestic wonder of these amazing creatures, but it also has an air of mystery about it too.
“Celtic Storm” starts with the pitter-patter of rain that the piano is so suited to playing. As the piece grows, so the storm grows in its intensity, but only slightly, with even the darkest clouds, coastal mist and plunging temperatures not diminishing the raw beauty of the country of Ireland.
The uilleann pipes make a second appearance on the CD, featuring on the album's title-track Distant Sun. Featuring a gentle beat, this is easy-listening at its best.
Track eight is a beautiful piece; a tribute to the composer's deceased father. “Journey of My Father” is such a heart-felt and melodic track that I am sure the late Mr. Karran will be looking down from heaven nodding his approval.
It is difficult selecting a favourite piece on an album full of terrific music, but if push came to shove, it would be track nine that would get the nudge. “The Traveller” is an outstanding piece showcasing Eamonn at his very best. It features a wonderful melody, and has a Celtic feel to it. This is the piece I heard on YouTube that stimulated my interest in the music of Eamonn Karran. I could listen to this piece all day and never tire of it. Readers can listen to this track in its entirety by clicking the piano in the right panel.
Distant Sun's penultimate track is “Season of Light.” This is music to chill to! This excellent album closes with “Aura of Life”. If Real Music albums are designed to relax, it certainly does that. A lovely way to close the CD.
Real Music albums are synonymous with beautiful, relaxing and inspiring instrumental recordings. With the acquisition of Eamonn Karran to their roster, they continue the very high calibre of their output, and demonstrate further why they are leaders in the field of contemporary instrumental music. Eamonn may have been playing the piano for well over thirty years, but he is a fresh face in the world music scene. An exciting and incredibly talented composer, Eamonn can only go from strength to strength, and I look forward to his future solo piano recordings with Real Music. I give Distant Sun my highest recommendation.