The sound of a lone piano is unlike that of any other solo instrument. It can fill space, sustain and flourish where others can’t, and the space in between feels all the more silent when it comes. For it to feel really empathetic, it has to be played well, of course, like on James Heather’s debut album, where, dealing in minimal arpeggios that solemnly flutter and slowly build, the contemporary pianist has made nine incredibly emotive pieces, where his early love for Debussy is evident.
Instrumental music like this begs for you to attach your own feelings and interpretations, but it’s pain that is at the heart of these compositions about true new stories found by Heather – of 16 years of false imprisonment (‘Teardrop Tattoo’), Boer War concentration camps (‘Empire Sounds’) and the Paris attacks (‘Last Minute Change of Heart’). Having survived a near fatal car crash in 2008, Heather knows a thing or two about struggle and sadness, but optimism and the beauty of life, too. It all goes into this tender and touching album.