Having recently reviewed Michael Dulin’s outstanding current release ”Timeless ll, I was interested to go back and listen to the album of his which preceded that – “Follow The River.” While there are some similarities, there are also essential differences. This CD bears some stylistic semblance in that it is primarily a solo piano album with a few songs adding additional instrumentation. However, an obvious departure is that while “Timeless ll is an album of classical piano, with interpretations of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, and others, “Follow The River” features all original songs written by Michael himself and shines a light on his skills as a composer as well as being a brilliant instrumentalist.
While there are elements of classical music present in this offering, the album exhibits a much wider range of influences including contemporary instrumental, new age, smooth jazz, and a bit of folk/roots Americana. For me, listening to this CD was like reading a book of short stories, in which each chapter spun a different musical narrative along with a corresponding emotional evocation. The ability to inspire a wide variety of feelings in the listener is a shining example of what Michael brings to the music. From one piece to the next, I experienced lightness, longing, joy, sadness, and more as the music, like the river, created it’s own emotional current.
Michael chose wisely to open the album with the title track, which has a rolling, flowing cadence that perfectly captures the image of a river, as it wends its way through the landscape, splashing and dancing in the sunlight. It’s a lovely upbeat piece that I enjoyed very much. The tempo and mood shift dramatically with the next track, the soulful and heartfelt “A Mother’s Love.” Michael dedicates this song to his own mother, and along with it a beautiful quote from Proverbs: “Strength and honor are her clothing…” Very touching. Then, harkening back to the feel of the first song is “Chasing The Wind,” also a tribute piece, although this time to fellow pianist and talented recording artist, the late Laurie Z, who I was grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and hear perform before her untimely passing. Fittingly, the next song is a classically tinged lament entitled “Farewell.”
Lush string accompaniment and a dramatic arrangement lure the listener on the seductive “Siren Song,” and represent another fork in the river from where we have traveled musically thus far. Other tributaries are explored later in the album on “Promised Land” and “Gone Fishing” which add bass and drums to the piano and reflect a markedly jazzier side of Michael’s musical repertoire. “Gone Fishing” which casts a line in similar waters as the popular “Peanuts” theme song by Vince Guaraldi is the last track on the album and with its bouncy, upbeat, joyous vibe is a wonderful way to end the CD – just as the first song was the perfect intro.
I was greatly impressed with Julliard trained pianist Michael Dulin’s abilities after first hearing “Timeless ll”, and I am even more so now, having had the opportunity to experience other rays of his creative spectrum. Michael conceives of “Follow The River” as the perfect metaphor for the journey of life we all share. In his words: “as the river heads for the sea, we are all passing through time into eternity.”