Carl Liungman’s ‘Shine’ is an instrumental album of monumental proportions. Not in sound, some would say, but definitely in emotion. When someone says to you, ‘Instrumental Album’, you may think of horns, drums, strings and the like. A full ensemble. They collide and roar together to deliver a performance that dives to places so deep that words can't reach them. And you would be right to think that, to understand the breadth of emotion that can be captured by sound and presented to us through its medium. But Carl Liungman is here to prove that you don't need horns, drums, or woodwinds. A solitary piano can sing as purposefully as the entire collection together. ‘Shine’ is an album, but it reads like a book, breathes like a lover and cries like a child. It is wholesome and omnipresent. It alights on emotions we all feel and is a perfect score for life, simple, loving life.
Reaching out and listening to this album takes strength. A lot of people would laugh that off I think, but those people are not really listening. There are songs in ‘Shine’ that question you, probe you and understand you. It's not all gloom as many piano albums can be. Songs like ‘Flowing’ have a quality of hope. It rushes through you as the song goes on, pushing the tempo, pushing the drone. It hits you differently than a crash of a cymbal or a harmonic cry, but it is there, that quiet smile to yourself. That knowing that everything will turn out all right. We’re all just flowing. ‘Salvage’ is another of the songs on the album that looks to do more than make you cry, it feels to me like a song that's looking back. Reminiscing on those old days and looking at reflections, seeing how far you have come. Whether you are looking at yourself or another, Carl Liungman is pushing that person up and on, toward the road they wish to travel. It's a gesture that would mean so much to all of us, it is one that means more than words.
‘Rare’ is for those rare days. Whether it all went right, or it all went wrong. We’ve all had days when we need a second, just to sit. To stare at the wall and relive it. The greatest days of our lives and the darkest. To both, we often react the same in the end. We just relive them. ‘Rare’ does this for us. It stares at the wall, it plays it back, it laughs at the good and hides away from the bad as we do. It's a helper and a friend. ‘Shine’ holds many trinkets. Keepsakes and handmedowns. They live in the sonic spaces between people and it’s up to you to find the one that belongs to you and use it, hand it down, share it.
‘Away’ is the last song on ‘Shine’. Carl Liungman’s playing across the entirety of this album is sublime, personal, honest and emotive. It's not notes on a page, it's music from the fingers. The melodies sing, take breaths and push on. The tempo can be steady, but it rushes, it drags, when the time calls for it. Together these songs speak of life, and of what comes from it. Greatness. People. Laughter. Sad things need not be sad, they are impactful. If you find ‘Shine’ connects to you then you are not alone in that. If it makes you think of times you’d rather not, take this time to think about them. You are surrounded by the sounds of humanity, comforted by its warmth and encouraged by its song. Take the leap, ‘Shine’.