Occasionally you hear an album that hits you right away. The music is stirring, the phrasing perfect and the sentiment of the work is transparently clear. It sounds good and feels even better. For me, Eric McCarl's solo piano opus, 'Seeking the Light', is such an album. No matter where I listened to the album, in my car going down the highway at 70 miles an hour, writing at the computer or just in my living room, I felt as though I was miles away from the buzzing intrusion of life around me.
Eric McCarl started his career at the tender age of eight years old. When we were burying G. I. Joes in the dirt or changing Barbie's outfits or both, Eric was composing piano music. He did not stop there. If a musical instrument could be blown into, plucked, or banged on - he mastered it. Although he graduated from Penn State with a degree in Computer Science, it did not take him long to realize that the world of making music was calling to him. He gravitated to the New World cultural center of the universe, Boston Massachusetts, and the prestigious Berklee College of Music. After establishing himself in the computer world and providing for his new family, he embarked on his musical career. Then, musical sponge that he is, he moved to the west coast and devoted himself to his craft, collaborating with the likes of singer-songwriter Charlie Sexton and Earth Songs composer Rob Harris. Seeking the Light is his first try.
A song called 'mind of a child' stands out as one of the best tracks on the album. It is a brooding, pensive piece that allows you to be far away in your mind. When you hear it, you will understand.
In the tracks 'amanda paige', 'hello aja', and 'r' McCarl wears his heart on his sleeve and let there be no doubt that his first love is family. For him, family is his foundation. His song 'little star' starts and ends with musical nursery rhymes with a delightful ditty in the middle that brings back the childhood from anyone's memory. I can just imagine Amanda and Erin sitting on the piano bench and saying, "Play it again, Daddy."
My favorite cut on the album is called 'to be a man'. The music does exactly what McCarl intended. It clandestinely makes you look inside yourself and wonder who you are and where you are going. I hit repeat a number times when the disc was in the changer.
It seems to me that McCarl plays not because he has to or even wants to, but because he has the fire in the belly that compels him. His passion is emotionally driven and it translates into music that soothes like salve on a fire-licked burn as well as satisfies like a hearty meal to the hungry. This is contemplative artwork. As you listen to 'Seeking the Light', you will see mind pictures. Your heart rate will slow down and it will become lighter.
'Seeking the Light' is on McCarl's own record label, Weaving Libra Records, and is part of the Trilogy of Light. I just hope I can hold my breath long enough for parts two and three.
reviewed by RJ Lannan of The New Age Reporter on 2/12/2004