Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus
While the term “family values” has taken on political connotations for some in our culture, Craig Karolus’ use of it transcends all of that and expresses its purest meaning. Family Values is one of the most intimate and personal musical tributes I’ve had the pleasure of hearing. Craig describes it as: “A tribute to the family members and friends whose souls were lifted to the Heavens in 2011.” Many of the tracks are named for them and convey some of their unique energies through their melodies and ambiance.
His music gives a relaxing feeling to the listener, while introducing a dramatic melody at the same time. This is certainly the sense one gets in listening to the first track on the album. Gentle synthesizer strings and piano in the intro, give way to lush orchestration that is powerful, yet elegantly understated, in a way that brought to mind some of the vibe of Suzanne Ciani. The next track, “Jacob’s Tribute,” however, took me quite by surprise. Elements of 70’s and 80’s progressive rock provide a propulsive energy that would likely find favor with fans of groups like early Journey and Yes. This tune taps into Craig’s roots and shows his talents not only as a keyboardist, but features some stellar electric guitar work.
After adding a bit of yang to the yin, it’s back to the more mellow and richly orchestrated sound of the first track for the rest of the album. The first song written for this album is a sweet musical eulogy to Craig’s father which features ethereal female vocals enhancing the arrangement. These kind of vocals appear in the next track as well and float gracefully over the opulent strings and piano that characterize “My Life With Charlotte” – a loving homage to Craig’s wife. On “Carry My Soul (To The Heavens Above) which appropriately brings the recording to its conclusion, Craig recaps the entire album in a way that is so heartfelt, it is sure to leave its essence lingering in the air after the music ends.The composition is quite cinematic and would make a wonderful soundtrack. It also serves as a re-cap in that it displays one of Craig’s strongest qualities as a composer, one which is found throughout every piece on the CD – his impeccable sense of dynamics. I was moved by the ebb and flow of his melodies and the way he used thematic modulation to shift the emotional currents of his music within the context of a single piece. I appreciate how Craig used his music for the expression of his emotions in such a deeply personal way. I’ll look forward to hearing more from him in the future.