While “Hope For Harmony” may be officially the debut for pianist Kathryn Toyama, the eighteen compositions that are present on this disc showcase a talent that far surpasses any other debuting act. “Hope For Harmony” leads off with “Hope”, a track that needs nothing more than a woman playing a piano to bring forth a narrative that will last throughout the whole of “Hope For Harmony”. From the light, airy arrangements that are commonplace during “Hope”, Toyama moves towards a more contemplative and spontaneous feel during “Carefree”. Despite the fact that the arrangements that Toyama places on “Carefree” are immaculate, the title emotion is captured with such accuracy that listeners will be able to identify whole-heartedly with the composition that Toyama lays down.
“The Parting” has a sadder, more emotive approach to it. Despite the fact that the titular event may be a sorrowful one, Toyama has placed a bit of hope at the periphery of this track. This diversity of emotion continues through the penultimate track “Echoes of Healing”, allowing listeners to interpret the tracks on “Hope For Harmony” in a variety of ways. It is these true to life compositions that make “Hope For Harmony” simultaneously the most simple and impressive instrumental album of the year. The overall theme of the album, which has Toyama linking together the titular feeling, thought, or phenomenon with a fitting arrangement, is something that has been done countless times before.
Where Toyama really contributes to the larger corpus of music is this ability to adeptly capture whatever the title may describe. The album is impressive not only because of this fact, but in the cohesion that the 18 compositions on “Hope For Harmony” have. Where a number of acts in all genres of music have attempted to place a similar number of tracks on their releases, the resulting album feels disjointed or is drug down by weak efforts. “Hope For Harmony” bucks this trend may having each track feed well into each other, while each individual track is crafted with a level of attention that is equivalent to classical masters. Grab a copy of “Hope For Harmony” from Toyama directly: a portion of all proceeds raised by the sales of this album will go to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence”. Toyama has a long career ahead of her, and it will be very interesting to see how her compositions evolve over the course of that career.
Top Tracks: Carefree, Faith
Kathryn Toyama – Hope For Harmony / 2007 Self / 18 Tracks / http://www.kathryntoyama.com /