After taking a much-needed break from touring, David composed much of the music on Winding Down over a six week period. Every song is designed with purpose, not only to be melodically pleasing, but also to be melodically surprising. While the overall tone of the album is dark, the music is thoughtful and prayerful. It's what soulful yearning sounds like... music to comfort you in difficult, trying times. This is solo piano music to inspire hope in a crazy, out of control world. The return of Hope grows closer with each passing day. Nominated: "Best Solo Piano Album of 2015" by Zone Music Reporter. WINNER: "Best Solo Piano Album of 2015" by One World Music Radio.
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"Winding Down is pianist David Nevue's Pieta, his Mona Lisa, his Aida, his Gone With The Wind, his Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It is his masterpiece, his crown jewel, his pinnacle of artistry. He has poured every ounce of himself into this magnificent record and it shows on every single track and during every minute. Nevue has opened a vein and bled out his soul onto the ivories. I first listened to Winding Down while driving around my neighborhood one day. By the time I hit track 5 or 6, I was awestruck by the sheer emotional weight and musical beauty of the album. I don't even know how to begin describing the impact of what Nevue has achieved. But I also feel I have to at least try so I can get all of you out there to buy this and really listen to it, absorb what the artist is saying and take it in.
Winding Down, as a title, is a double-edged sword. It can connote a state of relaxation, taking it easy, and slowing things down. However, after reading the liner notes (which are a must read in this instance), I realized that Nevue may also mean that time is winding down…or better yet, counting down. We, i.e. the human race, are on a collision course and we need to hit the brakes. We stand on a precipice and we can either step back or, well, you can take it from there. While I don't embrace the same religious beliefs that David Nevue does, I certainly respect and admire his convictions, and I agree with what (I perceive to be) his aim here. I quote from the liner notes: "With all the craziness happening in the world today, it would be easy to give in to fear. We must not do that. It’s important we don't abandon hope, because in the end hope will prevail."
Based on the above statement, you may think that Winding Down is optimistic and upbeat, but just the opposite. The vast majority of the music here is played in minor keys and much of it is somber and dark, even when the tempo is moderate or fast. Through its fifteen tracks, Winding Down is forcing us to come to terms with the importance of its message, i.e. time to face what we have wrought. That Nevue has accomplished this feat via music which is darkly beautiful, intricate without being inaccessible, impactful without relying on histrionics - well, I am just blown away.
At times, some artists seem to give song titles little thought, but not here. Winding Down's titles are like a roadmap (one could almost perceive this to be a concept album), not in an overt "look at me" way, but rather in plainly addressing what Nevue is trying to convey. From the opening "The Acceleration of Time" and its metronomic cadence wed to somber musical motifs all the way through the album closing "A Thousand Years and After" which concludes the recording on a warm, gentle note, the songs' titles are signposts and the music contained within are non-verbal descriptors of our destinations.
Stepping out of my gushing mode and resuming a more detached reviewer's vantage point, I can tell you that the darker pieces here are my favorites. "Foreshadows" marries an uptempo pace with a melody whose refrain is fraught with caution. "Winding Down" features a somber but beautiful refrain/motif that draws me in with its duality, i.e. relaxing yet with a hint of finality, as if choosing to "relax" will ultimately mean the end of me. "Towards the Inevitable" begins with evocative minimalism, as each note Nevue plays is allowed to sustain to the horizon (Nevue's control of nuance and subtlety is far and away at its peak on this recording) and slowly slinks into a gentle sadness. While one might expect "Signs in the Heavens" to be celebratory or joyful, it is, instead, one of the darker pieces on the album, with a subtle Spanish influence to the main melody at the outset. When the pace picks up, some of the darkness is shed, perhaps indicating that the "signs" are not foreboding but hopeful. You can well imagine the mood of songs titled "Under a Cloud" and "The Long Regret" and yes, they are somber, but also filled with not just brilliant playing by Nevue but melodies that flow with grace and beauty nonetheless. "Through a Glass Darkly" may be the emotional centerpoint of the album as Nevue balances positive and negative in this emotionally rich piece.
I could go on and on as there is so much here worthy of mention, but words seem only partially adequate when a recording is as emotionally rich as Winding Down. I have to believe that even David Nevue's legion of fans will be caught off guard by the brilliance of this recording. Perhaps some will consider it too somber, too lacking in "feel good" music, but it's fairly obvious that Nevue intends this to be a mirror of his own personal struggles in this day and age as well his journey back to wholeness (again, the liner notes explain this all in detail).
It's somewhat of an inside joke for long-time readers of my reviews (going back to the days of Wind and Wire, the magazine) that I once (ignorantly) stated something like "I am no huge fan of solo piano and I really like this album" (I no longer even remember which album I was reviewing). Over the years, I have come to love many solo piano recordings, so you can trust me when I state that Winding Down is one of the best of that genre I have ever heard (and that covers a lot of ground, trust me). Do you like piano? Then just buy this album already!
- reviewed by Bill Binkelman on 8/30/2015"
MORE Reviews of this album at Amazon.com.
I started touring and traveling for concert performances in 2005. I LOVED it! Every time I played a concert, it was like a big happy ending, with smiles all around and lots of love from the audience! For a performing artist, it doesn't get much better.
Fast forward a few years and the joy of performing began to lose its luster. I was traveling a LOT, and even when I wasn't, the shadow of "the next show" was always just around the corner. I couldn't relax, and the stress of getting up in front of strangers, sharing my soul, and trying to live up to "fan" expectations started to get to me. My love for performing turned to dread... and my health began to decline. I wisely decided to take a break, not only to recover, but to spend more time with my family. I finished up my last tour in October 2013 and took a deep breath, happy to be home for an extended period of time.
Three months later, an unexpected thing happened. With my mind freed from the spectre of touring, my creative instincts returned, and over the course of about six weeks, I composed an entire album of new music – the album you now hold in your hands - aptly titled Winding Down.
In some ways, "Winding Down" feels like my first album of deliberate compositions since my 2005 release, "Overcome." Yes, I've written many songs in the past ten years, but most of those melodies just landed on my hands between tours. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I've missed being able to put 100% of my focus on crafting new compositions. With this album, I was able to do that, and what a difference it has made!
The approach I took to this album was very methodical. The first track I composed for the album, Foreshadows, was in the key of B minor. The second track, Clockwork (which began its life as a live concert improv with pianist Neil Patton), was a half step up, in C minor. The first note of the third track, Winding Down, was C#, another half step, and on it went, a half step at a time with each new composition. I did this to challenge myself to write in keys other than what I might normally default to. I also made a determined effort to include little musical surprises in each composition... something that would turn your ear just a bit. If you find yourself saying "I didn't expect that!" while listening to a song, then I achieved my purpose! In the end, the final track list didn't end up in exactly chromatic order, as I moved The Acceleration of Time to the opening spot, dropped a couple of songs, added improvisations that came about in the studio (Our Hope Is Here and Through a Glass Darkly) and split one song into two seperate songs (Under a Cloud and The Long Regret). Even with those subtle changes to the track order, the key from song to song never goes down - it always moves up. As you listen you are, musically speaking, being continually lifted up. That is by design.
Beyond the technical, there is a deeper meaning behind the music, as there always is with my work. The tone of the album has been colored by my growing sense of the shortness of time. Major world events - geo-political, social and natural - are accelerating from crisis to crisis so quickly we can't keep up. Time is becoming more compressed... its passage quickening. It's as if our physical realm is caught in a whirlpool, winding down with increasing velocity toward the "end of the age." (Matt. 24, Luke 21, Rev. 6 and 7, 2nd Peter 3). My awareness of this, and of what I know is yet to come, has created a yearning in me. The music on this album is a reflection of that yearning (Rom. 8:18-28).
With all the craziness happening in the world right now, it would be easy to give in to fear. We must not do that. It's important we don't abandon hope, because in the end, hope will prevail. We must choose to overcome the fear. I believe that all things - even things we now perceive as evil - will eventually work to the the greater good. God takes every wicked plan man puts in place and works it for the eternal good according to His purposes (Gen. 50:20, 2 Cor. 4:8-9, 16–18, 1 Peter 1:6-7, Rom. 8:28). We have to rest in that eternal perspective, because it's only in that perspective that all the suffering, pain, and obstacles we face begin to make sense. Once we reach eternity and enter the hereafter, that's when we'll finally understand and say... "yes, of course it had to be that way." So live in peace and hold on to that hope. Hope above all.
In Luke 21:28, Jesus encouraged His disciples by saying, "when these things begin to come to pass, then look up... for your redemption draweth nigh." So I am looking up... waiting for the glorious hope of His appearing (Acts 1:9-11, 1 Thes. 4:13-18, John 14:1-3, Rev. 1:7). So... while these days do indeed seem dark, watching them unravel strengthens my faith and my resolve. Jesus is my rock, my salvation and my everlasting Hope. He will not disappoint. Not one little bit. (Psalm 32 and 145).
So here you go… the work of my heart, mind and hands… for whatever it’s worth. May God bless and keep you in times of trouble.
- David Nevue, May 2015.