I have been a big fan of Wayne Gratz’s original music since the release of his first album, “Reminiscence,” in 1989. After many years with the Narada label, Gratz formed his own label, Wayne Gratz Music, and now has total creative freedom. “Light Lands and Shoreline” is Gratz’s fourth release on his label, and it’s a beauty. Commissioned by Thomas Kinkade to create a soundtrack for a DVD collection of his recent paintings (www.galleryplayer.com), this music undoubtedly enhances the visual experience greatly, but the music itself has no need for illustration. Although I am not a fan of Kinkade’s artwork, I thought it would be fun to match up the music titles with the paintings, just to see where the inspiration came from, but I could find no clues on the galleryplayer site or Kinkade’s. None of Kinkade’s artwork is in the liner notes of the CD, either, so if you want the whole experience, start with the DVD set. Again, the music has no need for visuals, as it clearly tells its own story in the quiet, peaceful voice Wayne Gratz is known and loved for, using his wonderful Yamaha grand piano with minimal washes of synth color to cast a quiet spell.
“The Windows Glow” begins the exploration. Lighted windows is a recurring theme in much of Kinkade’s work, so this seems like a perfect place to start. Warm, cozy, and very tranquil, we begin with a mood of gentle peace. “Native American Winter” creates images of light reflecting off snow and of wrapping up in a warm woolen blanket. “Waters Flowing Softly” brings thoughts of a gently babbling brook running over rocks almost silently, creating its own special peacefulness. “Gardens” is one of my favorites. A bit more rhythmic and upbeat, the mood is magical and colorful, with a special kind of contentment. “Houses By the Water” is another beauty, serene and calm. “A Busy Street” steps up the energy a bit, but this is far from chaotic or tense - the feeling is more of fun and enjoyment. “Sails and Sea” is a bit darker and more ambient, with sparkling cascades of notes and then wide open spaces contrast the wind and the water as well as the power, peace, and freedom of being in the midst of both. “Home” closes the CD with a lovely piece that blends a mix of emotions from wistful and nostalgic to warm and contented. The flow of this piece is compelling and evocative, and the melody is haunting - a Gratz classic to be sure!
“Light Lands and Shoreline” is a wonderful listening experience from beginning to end, and I highly recommend this CD. A winner!