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Mystical America

Laura Sullivan

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Album Review

One term that keeps coming up in connection with Laura Sullivan's pianism is "classical-influenced." That isn't to say that Mystical America, Sullivan's second album, is actually European classical music; this 2004 release will not be mistaken for an album of Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart or Rachmaninoff melodies. But the European classical tradition is definitely a strong influence on this pensive, evocative effort, which is very much a part of the new age genre. Some might argue that Sullivan's compositions are an attempt to simplify classical music and make it palatable to modern ears — sort of like the way soul-jazz organists simplified hard bop in the '60s. But truth be told, Sullivan isn't pretending to be anything other than what she is: a new age instrumentalist along the lines of Liz Story, Suzanne Ciani and George Winston. And like a lot of new age instrumentalists, she is very nature-minded. Nature was a major influence on her first album, Pianoscapes for the Trails of North America, and it is definitely a big influence on Mystical America (which was produced by guitarist Chris Camozzi). From "Mt. Shasta" to "America's Stonehenge" to "Hawaiian Islands," every song on this 2004 release has been inspired by nature in some way — specifically, nature in North America. While Sullivan's charming, thoughtful new age melodies owe something to the European classical tradition, she is an American performer who grew up in California — and her U.S. upbringing is reflected in titles like "Chaco Canyon" and "Red Rock Ridge." Anyone who has enjoyed the new age pianism of Liz Story or Suzanne Ciani will find a lot to enjoy about Sullivan's second album.

Customer Reviews

A Treasure!

“Mystical America” is pianist Laura Sullivan’s most uniquely beautiful work to date. Inspired by the wonder and mystery of various sacred and magical sites around the country, the music is peaceful and soothing, but provides plenty of substance to think about, enjoy, and dream. All of the tracks feature Sullivan’s elegant and graceful piano, and others include guitar, keyboards, strings, and flute. Chris Camozzi, Scott Fuller, Mary Pitchford, and Diane Grubbe contributed their considerable instrumental talents to the project, and Camozzi also produced and arranged the CD. The twelve tracks are grouped into four sets of three pieces: Magical Creations, Sacred Symbols, Mysterious Messages, and Nature’s Splendor, and the liner notes take us on a fascinating tour with a knowledgeable guide. All of the pieces are original compositions with the exception of “Mt. Shasta,” which is a gorgeous arrangement of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” (Sullivan has included a favorite classical piece on each of her albums). The CD also includes a packet of hand-dipped desert sage incense to intensify the experience. The first of the “Magical Creations” is “America’s Stonehenge,” which comes from Mystery Hill in Salem, Massachusetts. A duet for piano and violin, the piece is both mysterious and lighthearted - an odd combination that works beautifully. “Chaco Canyon” comes from a complex in northwestern New Mexico that was the main ceremonial center for an ancient people. Acoustic guitar and piano with some keyboard washes paint a tranquil scene. Part of the complex is a series of roads that go out from the structures in a series of straight lines that extend for miles into the desert. Thought to represent the out-of-body spirit travel of the shamans, the music has a floating quality that conveys peace and wide-open space. “The Serpent Mound” (Ohio) is subtitled “Celestial Harmony.” Ambient sounds enhance the gentle warmth of the piano, creating a delicate and serene soundscape. The “Mysterious Messages” pieces all have a light yet haunting quality. They are melodic, but somewhat less structured, and shimmer with gentle elegance - I especially like “The Heavener Runestone.” My favorite set is “Nature’s Splendor.” “Red Rock Country” (Arizona), subtitled “Scent of Desert Sage,” is a piano solo with a lovely rolling left hand and a sweet, simple melody. I had the pleasure of hearing Ms Sullivan play this piece on my piano at the Whisperings concert last summer, and it was hypnotic. My favorite track is “Hawaiian Islands: Born of Fire.” A bit different from the rest of the album with its upbeat tempo, I really like the energy on this one! The closing track is a gorgeous arrangement of “Moonlight Sonata,” a tribute to the majesty and beauty of Mount Shasta in California. Sullivan’s piano is faithful to Beethoven’s original, with subtle and poignant keyboard accompaniment added. Laura Sullivan keeps growing and surpassing herself with each new release. “Mystical America” is a marvelous artistic achievement, and should be a treasure in anyone’s music collection. Very strongly recommended!

All I can say is.....WOW!

Being a hard rock music listener myself for my entire life I still have to say that this woman has opened the way I appreciate music in a new level. Her creative, never boring melodies are the ones that stick in your head at anytime of the day. I could even listened to her melodies in my dreams. I am very skeptic when I listen to music, especially new artist for me, but Laura is one of those artist that gives you those goose bumps that you can only experience when you get emotional, a very hard thing for me to achieve. Thank u Laura for opening up my mind.

Exceptional

Laura Sullivan was new to me, until I happened to stumble onto her music through ITunes. I was completely swept away by what I heard. If it is possible to tell a story, or use music to evoke images, then Laura Sullivan is the master of it. She composed and played these songs expertly using her emotions as her guide. I am spellbound by the beauty of some of these songs, and I find myself humming a few of them at work! If you are a fan of Suzanne Ciani, George Winston, Kevin Kern, or Liz Story, then by all means start downloading this album now, you will completely enjoy it.

Mystical America, Laura Sullivan
View In iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genres: New Age, Music
  • Released: Aug 26, 2005

Customer Ratings

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