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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Tom Eaton Weathering (2023)

Piano, melodies, arrangements to make a rock cry

1 Prelude to the Lost Years 00:55

2 The Lost Years 8:01

3 Above the Mad River 7:16

4 Instead I said Goodbye 6:29

5 The Empty Page 7:08

6 Weathering 7:12

7 The beach, the rain, and hope 8:53

8 The world with her in it 8:48

9 When Clouds give way to Stars 5:59

(CD/DDL 60:47) (V.F.)

(Ambient piano music)

Just piano! Dominant piano encircled by a synth/guitar fusion whose multiple colors are like the iris of pain! No rhythms, just cadences dictated by piano lines where melancholy melodies gather. Melodies to make a rock sigh! WEATHERING is Tom Eaton's latest offering, which finds its way to our ears almost 4 years after How It Happened. Eaton presents us with a very intimate album that describes his difficult journey, and I invite you to read the long and precise synopsis he wrote on the album's Bandcamp page, where from begging for human warmth, he finds his voice in the arms of a woman who has understood and accepted the greatness of his despair. It reminds me a lot of my own story! That's probably why I instantly fell in love with the music on this album. That also explains my hesitation in telling you about it. Available as a manufactured CD and in download format, WEATHERING showcases the American East Coast multi-instrumentalist's piano playing, which uses two piano lines, one for the cadence and the other for the melody, over long minimalist structures that are separated by phases where the pianist considers whether to continue or give up. The essence of his struggle! He goes on to add arrangements that add a sense of drama and intensity to the denouement of a title that represents a part of his life. I composed this review on a rainy Sunday in October, my sweetheart and her sweetness at my side, thinking to myself: damn, it's just the right time to listen to this new album by Tom Eaton!

What's most striking about this album is the strength, the weightiness of the piano keys. They fall as if abandoned to our emotions. To whatever our emotions want to do with them. They burst with pain in Prelude to the Lost Years, which is the gateway to a universe where pain finds its resilience in hope. In that secret rage to live! Every track on WEATHERING is slow and built on repetitive melody patterns that burrow between our ears. The Lost Years resonates these notes with a purity matched only by the melancholy dimension of its composer. It's sad, even if the piano notes sometimes gambol over the tinkling of other, more pensive notes. These overlapping or merging piano lines create a celestial choreography with a melodious carousel that swirls around the pianist's more linear thoughts. This balance creates the illusion of an ambient rhythm that the bass, discreet and delicate here, helps to propel with murmurs of restraint. The synth adorns the panorama with twilight shadows that become in perfect harmony with the jeremiads of an electric guitar that adds further depth to the nostalgic dimension of The Lost Years. Its jeremiad bursts create happenings, in this case around the 5-minute mark, when time stops for a long sigh. This track opens the floodgates of sadness on an album that nevertheless has a few glimmers of joy. The synthesizer weaves a shadow of occluded murmuring into the opening of Above the Mad River. Just long enough for the piano to release a handful of notes that gambol in a tight circle in electronic ambiences that remind me of the music of Emerald Web or the ethereal ambiences of David Lanz & Paul Speer in Desert Vision. If the piano creates tears, the synth and its multiple effects draw arabesques with a mixture of orchestration and chiming haze from which chimes tinkle in suspension. There are always moments of happening in this album... Between pain and desire, between comfort and its opposite, the piano hesitates as it assaults our emotions, as if burrowing into the lairs of its pain. This feeling is omnipresent in most of the tracks of this beautiful piano collection music. Although more acoustic, Instead I said Goodbye is conceived along the same lines. The pianist is pensive. His notes tumble out and his melancholy weeps between weeping guitar textures and shadows of synth, which also unfurls an azure incandescence. A track whose sad melody reminds me of Raphaël's piano music. The Empty Page is more electronic in the avant-garde New Age genre, with other guitar textures, cadenced chimes and a superb Patrick O'Hearn-style bass that gives the music a very Darshan Ambient essence. It's a beautiful track where the two piano textures engrave with a hot iron our emotions on Erik Wollo-style guitar jeremiads! The beautiful title track is of the same wood! The piano resonates, and its melody is overwhelming. The chiming chords tinkle as if falling from the heavens. And the bass sings like a soul begging for charity. And always, this fusion of synth and guitar that halo these atmospheres while drawing arabesques of sadness. It's as beautiful as it is delicate! Hesitant at first, the piano of The beach, the rain, and hope eventually embraces this walk on a rainy day by the sea. One piano line sculpts the slow cadence, while the other electrifies the listener with its dreamy jazz melody. Chime-like chords also adorn this setting weakened by the uncertainty of the moment, while the accumulating arrangements add drama and intensity to the music. Despite the guitar tears that seem permanent in WEATHERING's universe, The world with her in it is a much happier track, with a good union between the chimes and the piano's almost nuptial procession. The texture of When Clouds give way to Stars is haloed by an intense wall of synth and guitar layers. The 2 weep, but with a joy as yet unknown and, above all, half-tamed. There's a kind of elation in the chimes and in the seraphic voices, as discreet as the evasive piano melody. There's something very touching about these arrangements that sent shivers down my spine. We're in the land of Emerald Web, of that blossoming American progressive New Age movement of the 80's and 90's more than ever here!

Despite its immense sadness, WEATHERING is a form of rebirth for those who are having a hard time. For those whose souls are down their feet! The sadness that emanates from the piano-led melodies and the arrangements of synths and guitar leads us to an introspection where the best of ourselves is nonetheless within reach. Tom Eaton has lived it and transposes it admirably into music. I adored it. But I'm in a kind of emotional conflict of interest.

Sylvain Lupari (October 8th, 2023) ****½*

Available at Tom Eaton Bandcamp

(NB: Words in blue are links you can click on)

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