Suzanne Ciani

Silver Ship

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Silver Ship is Suzanne Ciani's first album of all-new material since 1999's Turning LP. And like that album, it's a tasteful, often joyful blend of acoustic and electronic instruments, buoyed throughout by Ciani's innate melodic sense. The composer and keyboardist also works with some familiar collaborators, including flutist Matt Eakle, Paul McCandless on reeds, cellist Joe Hébert, guitarist Teja Bell, and bassist Michael Manring. As her earliest releases prove, it's always been Ciani's intention to craft durable songs. That approach elevates her work above the homogeneity that permeates the contemporary instrumental and new age genres at their lowest ebb, and it's no different with Silver Ship. "Sargasso Sea" is a duet between Ciani's piano and the sad-eyed and graceful cello of Hébert, while "Eclipse" perfectly balances solitary contemplation with waves of surging emotion. Not surprisingly, "Open Seas" incorporates some artificially generated ocean swells beneath Eakle's airy flute leads, while opener "For Lise" features one of Ciani's classic melodies -- plaintive, powerfully hopeful, and softly whispered all at once. Silver Ship also takes a few detours, adding percussion and prominent solos from Bell and Eakle for the East African-flavored "Wine Dark Sea" and nodding into a slight new age-jazz cross for "Capri." Also, like Turning, the title track again features vocals. "Silver Ship" is a heartfelt lullaby emboldened by an interestingly vintage-sounding synthesizer tone. Ciani's been at the top of her craft since Velocity of Love in 1984. The crystalline Silver Ship floats there, too.

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