Open Sky: The Story of the Album....
Within just a few short weeks, I'll be releasing my new album, Open Sky, to the world. This project has been a long, long labor of love.... and that is an understatement. I don't know that I have ever worked so hard on a project... or for so long. I am ready to release this puppy, let it go, and move on with my life.
That said... if this the last music I release to the world... then I'll be OK with that. This album really feels like a capstone. Like the final icing on a "David Nevue" cake. I don't know that I can ever outdo this.
I am so thankful to God for my life... and for filling my heart and hands with music. He has been so good to me... to my family. All around are blessings.
And so, now that we are only a month or so out before many of you begin to hear the music, I thought I would share the liner notes with you... this will give you a little insight into the album and the music it contains..
Out Under the Open Sky...
I have always been rather prolific when it comes to writing music. No matter where I am in life or how busy I am, I can't seem to stop the flow of new material that comes bursting from my soul. So even though I spent most of my creative time between 2005 and 2009 arranging and recording hymns and praise songs for my Adoration and Revelation album projects, I continued to compose my own original music on the side. By 2010, I had a stockpile of original works that I was anxious to record and release.
Songs from that "stockpile" finally started to see the light of day in 2011 when I announced A Delicate Joy, a cheerful album of light, bright music. That album featured all the "sweet, peaceful, happily-ever-after" style tunes that I had composed (but not released) up to that point. Once that was finished, I was left with a dozen songs that didn't fit into the Delicate Joy concept... songs that were more driving, edgy, experimental and even melancholy. It's those remaining compositions (plus a few new ones) that now make up this album, Open Sky.
Open Sky begins with the title track, which to me feels a little like the "Wild, Wild West." It's a song about freedom, exploration and the exhilaration that comes from seeing and experiencing new things. I picture myself out on the open road, driving with the windows down, enjoying The Sound of Sunshine and the amazing landscape around me. It is a celebration of those "wide awake moments" when you feel truly alive, almost as if you were somehow standing a little closer to heaven.
Dragonflies and Butterfly Dance are basically musical paintings. Two flying creatures, two very different moods. When our family visited the Badlands in South Dakota, dragonflies flitted about everywhere, zipping to and fro. Dragonflies is an attempt to capture that cadence. As for Butterfly Dance, during a visit to Yellowstone, I watched a butterfly dance its way around a dozen boiling, steaming mud pits. That picturesque moment stayed with me. Butterflies are such carefree creatures.
For the Beauty of the Earth is a hymn arrangement and the first of four "cover songs" on the album. The tune just struck me one day and I started exploring it on the piano. It seemed appropriate to include. Forgotten Places takes me back a few years to when I took my family on a self-guided tour of abandoned churches and ghost towns in Eastern Oregon. There's something quite sobering about visiting places that have faded away into history. As you walk among the empty, broken buildings, you can almost feel the weight of time.
Undertow was composed in 1987 and was originally part of a soundtrack I wrote (on synthesizer) for a theater production of C.S. Lewis' book, "The Screwtape Letters." I've always liked the energy of the piece, and decided it was high time to reinvent it for solo piano.
I first performed Scarborough Fair as an improvisation with two other pianists at a concert in Albuquerque, NM. I liked what I came up with so much, I just had to keep working on it. It's really fun to play! As for Summer Rain, it reminds me of my time living in Colorado, and those summer afternoon storms that would quickly appear, pour down rain and lightning, and then disappear all in the space of about an hour.
Distant Thunder is an improvisation left over from my Revelation recording sessions. I've only ever played the “song” once and that was purely by accident. I just happened to be recording when the "accident" happened. When my wife heard the tune, she commented that she could hear distant thunder in the piece. I thought that was the perfect image for it.
Twister is a real challenge to perform. You can't fake your way through the song or play it half-heartedly. It only works if you go for it! One of my happiest achievements with this album was to finally get a recording of Twister that I was mostly satisfied with. Swirling and intense, it's a real finger-twister!
The Water is Wide is my take on the traditional English melody. I've always liked the tune. Haunting, dreamy and pensive.
Dark Afternoon was composed in the late 1990's. The tune was originally called Nails as it represents Jesus' dark afternoon on the cross. The composition was part of a musical Passion Play that I performed on a few occasions for Easter and Lent. An early recording of this song was released in 2002 on a short-run CD called Foreshadows. Only a few copies of that CD were ever made, so if you happen to own one, treasure it. It's very rare.
Echo Canyon is the newest piece on this collection, written just a week before I went into the studio to record this album. I was noodling around on the piano and my son walked in and said "I really like that... what is it?" I told him I was just messing around. Five minutes later my daughter walked in and said the exact same thing. At that point, I decided to try recording the song. The key to this composition working at all are the dynamics. They add a sense of mystery, power and purpose. To me, it feels like walking in a very ancient, remote place. Thus, the title.
Stargazing takes me back to a late night road trip across the Utah desert with my family. The night sky was as clear as I'd ever seen it, so I pulled off the highway onto a secluded road and woke up the kids. We all got out of the car and marveled at the starry, starry sky.
I started writing Eclipse around 2006. I was showing the chord progression to my friend (and fellow pianist) Joe Bongiorno when he joined me at the piano and began improvising a melody over the top of what I was playing. That melody stuck with me... and changed the tune forever. It left me with two variations of the song; my "original" version and a "four hand" version (as played with Joe.) In the end, I combined the two versions, arranging the piece so that it could be played with just two hands (otherwise, how could I ever play it?) This hybrid is the result.
Finally, I was asked to play Morning Has Broken for a wedding and worked up this rendition. While I've never been partial to this particular song, I sure enjoy playing this arrangement. It's got a little edge to it. A fitting finale for the album, I think.
That sums it up. I really hope you enjoy this collection. It's been a long, long labor of love.
- David Nevue, April 2013.