"Road To Home" isn’t Donovan Johnson’s newest release, but it just might be my favorite so far. The ten original tracks are a combination of piano with synth enhancements (including nature sounds) and accompaniments. The album itself takes the listener on a journey through life, from birth to the end. Ranging from sweet and innocent to turbulent and stormy, I think this album showcases Johnson’s impressive versatility as well as his mastery of the piano. A classically-trained pianist from an early age who continues to teach and mentor other pianists as well as running Enlightened Piano Radio, his own internet radio station, Johnson wears many musical hats and brings a wealth of experience to his original compositions. Focusing more on expression and storytelling than showmanship, most of this music is very accessible and easy to understand without being simplistic. I’ve enjoyed all of Johnson’s albums so far, but Road To Home is something special.
The album begins with “Fairy Duster,” a light, playful piano piece that includes the sounds of the ocean and thunder. The middle of the piece becomes more flowing and serious until the playful theme returns - a great opening! “Innocence” has a graceful piano melody that is backed by ethereal voices and sparkling wind chimes - very soothing and magical at the same time. The title song is leisurely yet full of longing, gradually building as it evolves and conveying the excitement of getting closer to the destination. “From This Day Forward” is a tender love song expressed with heartfelt emotion. “The Stargazer” unfolds at a slow, dreamy pace, moving gracefully through space and time. “Love’s Journey” is an incredible piece - one that stops me in my tracks every time. Dark, intense, and very mysterious, I can’t wait for the sheet music for this one! “Sagittarius” picks up the tempo a bit with a lighter, more adventurous tale. “Nocturne of the Ancestors” closes the album with another favorite. Somber and dark but not without hope, this is the piece that represents the end of life on the journey. The sound of crickets and other night sounds are a gentle accompaniment to the poignant piano.
If you are new to Donovan Johnson’s music, "Road to Home" is a great place to start! Very highly recommended!