"Sulla Riva" (“On the Shore” in Italian) is pianist/composer Amy Lauren’s seventh album. I have always thoroughly enjoyed Amy’s music and the grace of her piano playing, and this album is no exception. In some ways, "Sulla Riva" is a continuation of Amy’s 2013 release, "On Water," which told of the journey through the loss of her beloved dog. This time, it is more about the convergence of three rivers, including the upper Mississippi, near where Amy grew up. It also recounts the story of a steamboat that burned to the waterline at this site on the Black River in 1870. Other stories and experiences are expressed by way of piano solos that are sometimes very smooth and flowing and other times more intense. It’s an exceptional collection where the richness of the music deepens each time you listen. It will work well as background music, but to really understand and enjoy the beauty of the Amy’s playing and composing, you should give it your full attention at least a few times.
"Sulla Riva" begins with “Mahogany Cider,” the name of a horse who followed (or follows) the Black Creek Trail. In places, this beautiful piece has a repetitive left hand pattern that propels the poignant melody forward; in other places, the left hand is more flowing. “Black Creek Trail” is gently serene through most of the piece, although the middle section becomes somewhat more turbulent and passionate. “Where Rivers Meet” is a favorite. Some of it is very languid and free, building to express strength and changeability, then sparkling and peaceful. The fascinating variety of themes in this piece beautifully describe the many moods of a body of water. “Bridges On River Road” feels a bit like a leisurely walk on a spring morning when everything feels fresh and new again - I really like this one, too! “White Feather’s Tale” refers to the unsettled spirit from On Water. Still not very settled, the spirit/feather tells a colorful and vivid story. “Lavender Clay” is another favorite. Named for the clay along the shoreline of the river, the rubato rhythms make me think of water lapping up to the shore and back out again. The title track tells the story of the lost soul from the last album finding a beautiful final resting place on the shore. It expresses the graceful ebb and flow of the water, the serenity of being on the shore, and a heartfelt good-bye. “Waterline is much lighter and more playful yet still very peaceful. “The Autumnal Sessions” brings this beautiful album to a graceful and expressive close.
Amy Lauren has created another excellent solo piano album, sharing some of her favorite places where three rivers meet and the many ways they have affected her life and music. Recommended!