The Touch of Hearts and Music
Always Near, the new album from Kevin Kern offers wistful waltzes, warm ballads, and sophisticated airs all in Kevin’s memorable, smooth style. Kevin Kern is a veteran of ambient piano music with a dozen albums, multiple songbooks, and numerous contributions to other albums, but his focus on this recording is pure romance. This music touches the heart and builds glorious memories, all in the name of love. Some of the contemporary and New Age music on this fourteen-track album is already familiar to me, but many are new. All favor Kevin’s melodious touch of piano, guitar, and very light orchestra.
The album begins with a fragile piano tune called “Love’s First Smile.” From across the room, or from two seats away on the bus, there is no distance too great, that does not diminish when you first see her and she smiles. The heart becomes wax, the body weak, and the spirit surrenders. Kevin has translated this feeling into notes and the sound is miraculous.
Walking hand in hand past the tall, delicate stalks of creamy Queen Anne’s lace and admiring the orange Butterfly weed, the pathway in the garden is always delightful to explore, especially when you have your lover in tow. The song, “Le Jardin,” is ephemeral and sweet. A slow, waltz for two, the violin emphasizes the drowsy sunshine and the orchestra balances the warm afternoon and the earthy delight of it all.
“And the Light is Forever” is a passionate, solo piano pas de deux that seems to make time stand still. It is that feeling you get when the music is soft and gentle, the touch of your partner warm and firm, and the light in her eyes is forever. You do not want the music to stop and you do not ever want to let go.
“Through the Arbor” is the smell of tiny red roses, the feel of soft earth beneath your feet and the sense that you are entering a magical gateway. The tall hedges hide what might be a meandering path or perhaps a maze to challenge you. The music entices you to go around the corner and see what can be seen, so hold her hand tight and cross the grassy threshold.
There is a wonderful interplay between oboe and piano in the tune, “Where Paths Meet.” I imagined Donald O’Conner dancing with Vera Allen to this sumptuous music. It is the classic boy meets girl story, but this one is in beautiful black & white from so long ago. Fortunately, love, like great music, is timeless.
“Return to Love” is a sweet soliloquy of hope for someone’s broken heart. The dreamy title is destined to be in a romantic play and is heard when the boy wonders if he even has a chance. Meanwhile, the girl is off somewhere wondering if she even has a chance. Ah, such is love, confusing and beautiful all at the same time. “Return to Love” is my favorite on the album.
Kevin Kern lives in Minneapolis with his wife and they literally and figuratively make music together. I would be remiss if I did not think that that majority of these musical poems are for his wife, Pamela. As for us listeners, we can dance, cuddle, and love to Always Near. This lavish album provides magic to get the romance started and then goes beyond. It almost makes you want to book a ticket to Paris for two. Perhaps it is easier to light a single candle and wait for the sparks.
Rating: Very Good+