14 Apr 2021
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Samuel Philip Cooper - Album Review: Breaking The Silence

26 Nov 2020 // A review by Kev Rowland

Young Wellington-based pianist Samuel Philip Cooper is now releasing his debut album, which contains both of his earlier singles, Broken Heart Recovery and Hope In Your Heart. One of the problems I had with Samuel’s work is that it was too short, but hearing the 18 songs on this album (47 minutes long) it makes far more sense as here the different songs become part of one much larger work.

Back in 2017 Samuel suffered a break-up which had a major effect on him, and part of his recovery process was to improvise on a piano and record the music he was producing on his phone. He later returned to these recordings and restructured the songs before recording them at Massey University on a grand piano, and due to his mindset when these were originally composed there is often a feeling of melancholy within them. He had to ask for help during the dark days, and he hopes that by sharing the story behind the album he will assist in building discussions around mental health and encourage others to speak up about their struggles as well.

He has a very delicate touch, and while there is nothing showy within his songs, there is a naïve grace which is quite beautiful. The album is just him on the Grand Piano, no overdubs, with ample use of the sustain pedal, and he has a wonderful touch which enables him to provide simple repeated melodies which makes me feel like I am listening to the sonic version of a babbling stream passing through the forest, the dappled light shining on its surface as it gentle flows over the stones in the river bed. There is a life and movement, a clarity of purpose and vision. This image must be mighty powerful as looking back at the review I wrote about Hope In Your Heart I see I used pretty much the same analogy in there, yet I had not revisited that review since I wrote it.

Samuel has made this album available digitally, and it will also be released on CD in the middle of December. He says, “Through the release of this album and future concerts, I am determined to raise as much money and awareness for mental health, to help to break the stigma and silence around mental health and create an environment where people feel they can talk to somebody they trust (for example friends, family or a counsellor) instead of ‘toughing it out’ and staying silent like too many are doing”. It is a wonderfully relaxing album, one which reminds me of Anthony Phillips’ Private Parts and Pieces X – Soiree (yes I know Phillips is most well-known as a 12-string guitarist, but my favourite album of his is this one which is solely piano). For those who want their music to be delicate and gentle, perfect for the evening or quiet contemplation, then this may just be it.

Rating: ( 3 / 5 )
 

About Samuel Philip Cooper

Samuel Cooper is a contemporary solo pianist/composer based in Wellington. Composing since 2017, Sam’s compositions are deep, healing, and aim to tell stories that reflect some tough periods he has experienced in his first 25 years of life to help raise awareness for mental health and make a difference. Through his compositions and accompanying messages, he encourages others to speak up about their mental health instead of suffering silently like too many do.

Samuel draws inspiration from a vast array of contemporary pianists like Brian Crain and Michele McLaughlin, as well as many others from around the world. He hopes that his playing uplifts and enlightens listeners, and most importantly brightens people’s days and puts smiles on faces.

The piano is an instrument ingrained in Samuel’s bloodline – being the great-nephew of the late Peter Cooper, a well-known 20th century New Zealand concert pianist and a war pianist in World War II.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Samuel Philip Cooper

Releases

Breaking The Silence
Year: 2020
Type: Album

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