Sea Of Tranquility.org - 12/19/06
Massey, Michael: The Present
“Listening to The Present, a mesmerizing 70-minute disc of instrumental-piano holiday music, it’s hard to believe that multi-instrumentalist Michael Massey was once an early-'80s hard rocker (his Wisconsin-based band Chaser cut a demo for Atlantic Records and competed on Ed McMahon's Star Search). Or that he released an award-winning, well-honed and downright brilliant collection of Bowie-esque pop nuggets in 2005 called Attack of the Delicious.
Instead, on The Present, Massey offers warm, elegant and often delicate piano interpretations of 11 traditional holiday favorites (and even an Advent classic with “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”), plus two originals. The title track, according to Massey’s liner notes, musically tells the tale of a soldier making an unexpected return home from war in the midst of a family holiday gathering, while “Snowshine” conjures images of pristine, moonlit snow. Surprisingly, one of the most effective piano treatments here is of a song about a drum. On “The Little Drummer Boy,” Massey’s left hand keeps a staccato rhythm while his right hand plays the fluid melody. Throughout, his style is crisp and light, the arrangements respectful and well-paced.
The Present is, indeed, a gift — a subdued holiday treat that makes the perfect soundtrack for a peaceful, stay-at-home evening.
Reviewer: Michael Popke