Gifted pianist and composer Lisa Downing’s fourth release is aptly titled “The Wisdom of My Shadow”, which alludes to the shadow-self of Jungian psychology. Additionally, a feminine theme of mystery and receptivity is further illustrated by the cover artwork of Susan Seddon-Boulet, which depicts the ancient Babylonian creator goddess “Ishtar”. Comprised of ten original compositions including two collaborative pieces, plus four cover songs, a short background story is included for each of the tracks detailing their deeply personal and interpretive meanings for Lisa, from which greater depth and insight can be gleaned.

“Forbidden Dance” begins slowly in a high register, tip-toeing about gracefully before moving through dramatic shifts between the lower and higher registers, providing contrasting light and shadow. The delicately forceful and flowing quality of this piece is characteristic of much of the album, which transverses a wide-range of themes and emotions. One especially intriguing original composition is “Black Wedding”, which opens with the toll of a church bell and fluttering piano notes that convey a feeling of trepidation, before leading into an emotionally intense yet dedicatedly somber motif. Another highlight is Lisa’s solo piano interpretation of the Tears for Fears song, “Mad World”. Brushed by gentle, diligent strokes, she renders the popular tune into a peaceful and contemplative number that’s fittingly appropriate within the overall context of the album. “Postludium” is characterized by a distinctly classical flair, a beautifully brief tune written by Hungarian composer Ernö Dohnányi. Nearly two minutes in length, this interlude-like piece sparkles throughout with elegant enchantment. “Cloudwalker” is one of two collaborative compositions on the album, which was co-written with the amazingly talented mutli-instrumentalists Al Jewer and Andy Mitran. Here Lisa’s piano is resplendent in the exotic admixture of native flutes, singing bowls and gentle tribal percussion of this gently rhythmic track. Lisa also presents her signature-style rendition of “Harlem Nocturne”, an iconic jazz piece written by Earle Hagen and Dick Rogers, which bears the appeal of a late-night piano lounge and moves at a rhythmic pace. Perhaps most intriguing is “Moonrise”, a piece co-written with Améthyste and Gunnar Spardel (who also records as Tigerforest). Lisa’s piano glistens throughout amidst Gunnar’s ambient soundscape, as Améthyste lends her blissfully ethereal wordless vocals and equally haunting Theremin instrument to this astonishingly gorgeous piece, conveying a sense of longing and mystery. “Sad Lisa” is another heartfelt solo piano rendition of a piece written by Cat Stevens that has always resonated with her. Although devoid of the original composition’s melancholic lyrics, its forlorn essence is perfectly illustrated here. Rounding things out is the bonus re-release of “Diaphanous Breeze” from the album “A Delicate Balance”. Like sunlight softly pouring through the clouds, this gently faster-paced tune delicately dances about, concluding the album on a dreamy, peaceful note.

Lisa seems to have poured her entire being into these compositions, often employing a uniquely appealing way of bending the compositions with bold, minor accents. Brilliant like the morning and evening star glowing in the distant horizon, “The Wisdom of My Shadow” is an ode to the feminine aspect of divinity. This album is truly a gift on many levels, and especially to all women, with a portion of the album’s proceeds appropriately going to The National Women’s Hall of Fame. ~Candice Michelle

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