The Colors of Change
I came across David Tolk’s music when someone sent me a link to one of his songs. After the first listen, I knew I wanted more. There is something about the combination of piano, light ensemble and irrevocable reverence that gets to my soul. There is a certain grace to David’s music. The heartfelt, harmonic tone of his works reminded me of only one other artist, John Michael Talbot. Although Talbot is a guitarist, like Tolk, his playing and compositions are drenched in a strong sense of faith. Tolk’s latest offering is called Seasons. It is eleven tracks of sublime contemporary instrumental music that produces a musical landscape of spring transforming into summer and fall tiptoeing into winter.
The beginning tune is called Morning Light. From a mere delicate glow in the east to the warming rays of the full sun, nothing is more perfect in springtime. Even though the day star is millions of miles away, the warmth that reaches body and soul is instant in the first light. David’s subtle combination of violin and piano balance that warmth and light.
Beneath A Starry Sky is a languorous melody with the coolness of the night and the pinpoint brilliance of distant stars. The music makes me feel as if I am in one of those time-lapse photos. The focus changes almost unperceptively, but it is there. The music is pacific and somewhat unearthly.
The title tune, Seasons, is an echoing soliloquy on the changes in our physical world, and maybe more than just that. The music itself has a Beethovian shadow, having classical blandishments, but the main melody has an evocative refrain and a soft vocal that is more than memorable. But beware, for the feelings may be bittersweet.
Living at the foot of the Smokey Mountains I could understand and enjoy the tune Clouds on the Mountain. There is an ethereal voice, delicate as gossamer, which permeates the song along within David’s haunting composition. For some strange reason, the next day after a summer rain, the clouds grow out of the mountain in thick white billowy masses. There is a purity to them, a chaste entity with an inner glow. This tune was an immediate favorite.
We are having a dry spell where I live, so leaves are dropping, but without their customary colorful coats. I turned to David’s tune Falling Leaves for all the color that I need. With the rhythmic cadence of the song, I could imagine the leaves, gold, orange, and red, letting go of their organic bond with the trees and hoping for something new to embellish. A forest path, a dusty roadside or even a daydream.
There is a droning sadness to the song Mists of Scotland, but the music is so apropos to the overall subject of the album. I could see the summer mists rising out of the glen, translucent with the morning light. Tolk’s piano ladened theme is suffused with quietude, a stillness more felt than heard. The music suggest to me that once the mist clears, there is promise to the day.
When he wrote Elegy, I wonder if David was thinking of the coming winter. The leaves fall, the trees sleep and the snow comes. Some equate a departure, almost a death with the change of fall into winter, but I feel it is more of a preparation. The passing of fall may be the converse of spring. Winter is temporary. Winter is a sleep to mend, refresh, and for time that allows for that prima verde. David’s flowing violin tune wanders about, touching heart, appeasing soul, but always with an undisputable strength found inside the spirit.
The final tune is called The Return. It is bright, cheerful, and practically exuberant. Is it the spring we experience in the morning? Does it suggest fresh, tender green growth, warm sunshine, is it the petrichor of the new? Piano and voice along with gentle ensemble come together to form not a goodbye for the recording, but a greeting. A sweet welcoming.
David Tolk’s compositions are vivid and lush, complex and expansive. There is emotion in every blade of grass, every ray of sunshine, every fallen leaF, and every snowflake he musically creates. Tolk has ten previous releases. I have had the pleasure of listening to his albums called Graces and Impressions, but I have to hear more. I end this review with an appropriate quote.
“Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.” — Henry David Thoreau
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 10/31/2017