Autumn Road

Vince Madison

Firefly Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I owe new age pianist Vince Madison a public apology.

You see, I first was given a copy of Autumn Road, his 2001 release, after hearing Madison perform at Hawthorn Center Shopping Mall in Vernon Hills, Illinois last year. I was so intrigued by what I had heard that I stopped over, introduced myself, and offered to review his work on "The Daily Vault".

It has literally taken me over a year to get to writing a review on Autumn Road, and for good reason: it's taken me this long to really feel comfortable with it. It's not that the performances or the songs themselves are bad; indeed, that's not the case at all. It's just that, for some reason, this collection of 11 piano-based songs confounds my emotions and sometimes left me a little numb mentally, making me confused as to what I had heard and what was going on in my head.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It's an interesting thing, really. Madison's touch on the piano is gentle but forceful, daring to stir up the emotional center of one's brain if you sit back and allow the music to come at you on its own terms. But when I hear a song like "Requiem," no matter how beautiful I think it is, the feelings it stirs up in me can differ from day to day. On one listen, it can make me depressed as hell; the next listen, as little as an hour later, it can put a smile on my face.

In a sense, this is Madison's goal, though I don't believe he intended on sending the listener (especially this listener) on an emotional roller-coaster. On his website, Madison does say he tries to use his music to invoke feelings - though I think he means to show people through his music the beauty of life and the world, despite all the reports you hear on the news.

That's really the core of Autumn Road, the beauty of the world as expressed through piano (though I did occasionally find myself wishing that the performances had only been solo piano, and that Madison didn't rely as much on electronic instrumentation). It's there in the light skipping of "Walking On Air," or the way the notes seem to float down on "Dance Of The Leaves". It's there in the introspective moods of "Mediterranean Blue" and "I Remember". It's there in the longing remembrance of times past (and anticipation of times to come) in "Til The Days Of Summer".

While Madison has not yet achieved the level of household name a la Jim Brickman, there is no doubt that he is a talented songwriter and pianist who, given the chance, could easily reach that goal. Maybe that's why Madison eschews the status quo of music promotion and plays his music in shopping malls. It works, too - it got my attention that September afternoon. And, frankly, the more people who know about his work, the better, 'cause Autumn Road proves he's deserving of that fame.

Chances are you won't experience those kinds of mood swings when you listen to this CD. In fact, chances are you'll appreciate this disc merely for the music, which is what I guess I should have been doing all along. All I know is this: if Madison reads this, and does give me the chance to review more of his work, I promise it won't take over a year for it to go from my hands to the written word.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2003 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Firefly Records, and is used for informational purposes only.