Stevens did not prepare or plan his second solo piano album, but used one session in a Sydney studio for “spontaneous improvisation”, trusting the creative process. The risk pays off, in spades.
Life’s Undertow is a compelling, declarative and inspired example of music shaped on the run. Apart from nimbly complex The Line’s Tension, these 10 pieces lean more to classical invention than to jazz, but all display a pervasive freshness that demands attention and obviates any call for swing.
In Campervan of Dreams a single note repeated sustains focus amid spare embellishments. Solemnity marks This Never Happens; Synapse is a hymn.
The successor to Stevens’ solo Freehand is testament to his ability to find, in freedom, sublime form.
Download: The Line’s Tension, Synapse
File between: Marc Hannaford, Mike Nock
For an interview with Tim Stevens about his album read The Unsentimental Bloke.
This review also published in the Play liftout of the Sunday Herald Sun on July 1, 2012.