FOREVER IN BLOOM
by Kathy Parson
FOREVER IN BLOOM
“Forever in Bloom” is a collection of original pieces played in a variety of
instrumentations on electronic keyboards. Melodic and accessible, most of the songs have a pop influence.
Shirley Cason cites Jim Brickman as one of her favorite composers, and there is a somewhat similar
approach in both composers’ work - an eagerness to please and to soothe the listener.
My favorite track is a passionate and darkly gorgeous piece called “Queen of Hearts”, dedicated to the life
of Princess Diana. A sense of tragedy prevails until an instrument comes in that sounds kind
of like an Italian accordion. I find the contrast kind of jarring, but am sure Cason had her
reasons for including it in such a heartfelt piece. “Eternity” is also very beautiful, with a
sadness and deep sense of melancholy. Sincerity runs through all of Cason’s compositions, and
most of the ten songs in the collection are on the lighter side. She also writes lyrics for
many of her songs and includes them in the liner notes, should anyone choose to sing them -
an interesting concept!
If you are in the mood for some quiet instrumental music , I think you’ll like this album!
“Forever in Bloom”
A SUMMER DREAM
by Kathy Parson
A SUMMER DREAM
“A Summer Dream” is quite different from Shirley Cason’s previous album of original material,
“Forever in Bloom”.
Cason’s sister, Carol, suffered from liver diseases, and this CD tells the
story of the summer of 1998 when Carol’s illness became severe and took her life. Although there is
no singing on the CD, Cason wrote lyrics for many of the songs and included them in the liner notes
for listeners to look at as they listen, giving more insight into the meaning of the songs. Without
the lyrics, though, the songs are very evocative and powerful, allowing the listener to attach his
or her own experiences to them as shared emotions.
Cason uses various synthesizer sounds and samples
to convey her feelings very effectively. My only criticism of this very fine album is that I would
love to hear a good acoustic piano instead of an electronic keyboard where the piano parts are.
I know that this is often a matter of economics for indie artists, but, esthetically, a piano
is still so much warmer and richer than the electronics.
“A Summer Dream” opens with Carol’s favorite song, “Springtime”, a bright and sunny tune,
full of fun and joy. “Come Out and Play” shifts moods a bit, as a sister calls to her sleeping
sibling to “hold my hand and say ‘let’s go’”. “The Calling” recalls Carol seeing her mother
at the end of the bed, and calling her. The lyrics are from Carol’s perspective, not being able
to understand what was happening, but looking forward to being free from the pain of her illness.
The song is sad, but full of hope. “Summer of 98” would make a wonderful movie theme. Bittersweet
and melancholy, the song is full of questions and a tangle of emotions that everyone has when
life becomes especially difficult. “Lost” is much more abstract and heavy - again the weight of
the swirling emotions and sense of impending loss is very powerful. “Last Walk” is perhaps the
strongest piece (musically) in the collection - the mix of emotions being conveyed so
successfully is amazing. “I Love You, I Do” is a simple love song - a reaching out
before the inevitable comes. “Last Breath” is again abstract, conveying the sense of
unreality that occurs when something devastating happens. Some of the sounds are distorted and “bent”,
creating a surreal feeling. The tones are very dark and bleak, and a tremendous sense of loss comes through.
“Mama” is again reaching out, this time for comfort and peace. “A Summer Dream” closes this
most effective CD on a much lighter note - full of hope and looking forward, and even moreso of the
healing that only time and closure can provide.
On a personal note, I lost my dad to cancer at about the same time Shirley lost her sister, and I found
this album to be an amazing journey down a familiar path. I hope composing this music brought Cason
some peace, as it will certainly be a comfort to others.
by Kathy Parson
All of the music for “Winter Mornings” came to Shirley Cason during the early hours of winter days,
hence the title. Played on various keyboards, several of the selections have a cool, ambient feel
while others are more melodic and structured.
“Beauty of the Earth” opens the CD with a gentle
song about God and Earth’s marriage, and all of us being the children of their universe.
“Winter Skies” is a bit more orchestrated, depicting an icy coolness and the stillness of early
morning. Ambient and floating, this is a very effective piece. “Icicle Melt” comes from
the dripping sounds of icicles melting off the house. Electronic and elegant, this piece
is much more ambient than melodic, and has a very shimmering beauty.
“10 Degrees” is my favorite
track. Darkly beautiful, it is like the light dancing and sparkling off of early morning snow.
There is also a sense of mystery and of a vastness that works really well. “Snow Dance” is almost
a musical Christmas card. Gentle bell-like sounds create the feeling of snowflakes swirling and of
morning light bouncing off of the surface of the snow. Very serene and peaceful with a gentle rhythm
for the dance. “Children and Snowmen” is a bit lighter although it is far from bright and carefree.
The piece becomes more orchestrated as it develops, and would be lovely as the soundtrack to a scene
of winter activities.
The CD closes with “Gulf of Florida,” a musical admission of needing to flee
the snow for a week each year to warm up. It’s a very charming way to end this chilly and evocative
collection. “Winter Mornings” is a wonderful CD for relaxing or cozying up to a winter fire.
by Kathy Parson
“The Crossing” is a collection of eleven of Shirley Cason’s most-requested pieces from four of
her previous albums. I have always liked Shirley’s music a lot, and this compilation has taken
her strongest pieces from the past nine years and exhibits the variety of colors in her music.
Much of Cason’s music was borne of personal crises and the loss of loved ones, so there is definitely
a melancholy cast to many of these pieces, but they are never bleak or without hope. Cason’s music
is instrumental with classical and pop influences, and most of it is lightly orchestrated on keyboards.
Cason has placed the music on this CD in chronological order with three tracks each from “Forever In Bloom”
(1999), “A Summer Dream” ( 2002), and “Winter Mornings” (2003), and two from her most-recent release,
“Inner Peace” (2008). If you are new to Shirley Cason’s music, this is a great place to start!
If you have her previous recordings, it’s still really nice to have a “best of” collection with
favorites all on one disc.
“The Crossing” begins with “Journey,” the opening track from “Forever In Bloom,” and a piece full of
wistful longing. “Seabreeze” has an easy tropical rhythm and a graceful, carefree sway.
I absolutely love “Last Walk” from “A Summer Dream.” On the dark, mysterious side, the emotional
impact of this piece is incredible. I found myself coming back to it over and over. The rhythms
and melody are simple, but they certainly communicate! “I Love You, I Do” is a heartbreaking goodbye
to a terminally ill sister, and then “Summer Dream” tells of being with loved ones again in dreams,
that in dreams we never die. There is a real warmth and sense of peace that is truly hopeful and healing.
“Beauty Of the Earth” from “Winter Mornings” is a gorgeous guitar piece with light orchestration
that shimmers with beauty and glows with a deep sense of contentment. “Winter Skies” is more ambient,
and sparkles with the chill of winter light dancing on snow - so peaceful! “Icicle Melt” is also
very ambient, suggesting the sound of vast open stillness and the percussive sound of ice melting -
wonderfully haunting! “Inner Peace With Love” from “Inner Peace” warms things back up again with
a tender love song that is graceful and soothing. “Peace, For Moments in Life” is a heartfelt guitar
piece that brings this collection to a charming, thoughtful close.
If you enjoy peaceful synth and keyboard music that comes from the heart,
“The Crossing” is a great choice! Recommended!
by Kathy Parson
”Inner Peace” is Shirley Cason’s sixth release and contains eleven very personal
original compositions that convey a variety of moods and emotions. Performed on keyboards,
this is Cason’s first album in four years, due in part to the loss of her best friend of
twenty-five years. Some of the pieces on this CD express sadness, but others are more joyful
- all are very loving. I have enjoyed reviewing all of Cason’s CDs, but I think this is my favorite.
Also a songwriter, Cason has included lyrics for some of these pieces in the CD’s liner notes
and on her website (everything on the recording is instrumental), adding another dimension to
the music. It is suggested that this CD be used for relaxation, healing, massage, and Reiki,
but I think just about everyone can enjoy this music. Honest and heartfelt music communicates
to anyone receptive to its message, and this music certainly fits that description.
“Inner Peace” begins with “Waiting For You,” a somewhat mysterious piece that is more
ambient than melodic and has a slightly Asian flavor. It’s an intriguing beginning that
invites the listener to proceed and see what’s next.“Come, Into My Room” calms and soothes
with the joy of new love - a beautiful and touching song! The title track speaks of seeing
the beauty that shines around the one you are in love with. This piece also has an Asian
influence and is very atmospheric. “You Are Beautiful Music” is a gorgeous love song to that
someone who reawakens deep emotion and brings inspiration. The instrumentation is simple,
with ethereal voices behind piano and guitar, creating the feeling of vast open space.
“Follow the Teacher” is a jaunty, playful piece that reminds me of some of Suzanne Ciani’s
earlier keyboard pieces. It’s very rhythmic with a spare but joyful melody line, creating
a change of mood from most of the rest of the album.“I Shouldn’t Care, But I Do,”
is quietly reflective, very honest, and more than a little frightened of loss. “Inner Peace With Love”
is graceful and warm like a cozy hug. “Peace For The Moments Of Your Life” is a blissful
guitar closing that expresses contentment and serenity.
“Inner Peace” is a great choice for a calming and soothing musical escape.
Very accessible and satisfying, it is available from shirleycason.com and amazon.com & iTunes.