Jeremiah Fraites – Piano Piano
“I love the idea of communicating with people through music alone” encapsulates pianist Jeremiah Fraites’ personal, reflective approach to his work. Co-founder and drummer of his band The Lumineers, Fraites brings to fruition a longtime love of composition with his first solo album Piano Piano. The title also means “little by little” in Italian, signifying his approach to composing. Besides piano, Fraites also performs on drums, guitar and synths, accompanied by Lumineers members on violin and cello and Macedonia’s 40-piece FAME’s Orchestra.
At first solemn, a slowly rising tempo blooms into melodic tones in Possessed – airy and serene, like a peaceful river on a summer morning. Arrival opens with soft, exquisite instrumentals ascending like the dawn, and segues into rhythmic, impassioned piano accompanied by ethereal strings, evoking gentle waves on a sunlit beach.
An Air That Kills is more complex than the other tracks. Monotone, suspenseful and intense, it suggests French New Wave cinema with sweeping piano, strings and cello solo. Contrary to its name, Pyromaniac has a romantic, pastoral sound; it is almost filmic, and one of the most innovative songs on the album. Chilly is more reflective of its name, beginning with dramatic solemnity, then becoming like a walk on a snowy winter’s day. The track is Fraites’ favourite work on the album, written while on tour with the Lumineers, and manifests what he calls his love of “big spaces” in music.
Named after his wife’s beloved dog – recently passed away – Maggie emotes with whispering instrumentals, then guitar-like piano tones. The number speeds up to a rock tempo, then falls into a sentimental melody but with a dynamic pace. Background strings purr like a woman’s murmured singing, or perhaps weeping. Dreams begins lighthearted, scales descending, moves into a dramatic, hesitant theme then, like a rondo, back to the beginning.
A gentle piano rhythm then an accompaniment of shimmering strings brings to mind an image of the Japanese capital with Tokyo. Written by Fraites about seven years ago, the composition is optimistic, playful and joyful. A medley of instrumentals embodies the city’s complexity and sophistication. With electronic notes, guitar and other strings morphing to a simple, slow piano solo and a building rock cadence, the dynamic Nearsighted is haunting, unusual, spacey and otherworldly, with its juxtaposition of mellow rhythms and fast beats.
Simplest of Matters, with piano and strings, is another track with a cinematic quality, sweeping, light and almost religious in tone. Again with a French New Wave vibe, with ambient voices, Departure is a beautiful piano solo embodying a wistful mood of lovers’ goodbyes.
A gorgeous, well-constructed, inspired compilation, one can predict Piano Piano could have appeal as film music. Otherwise it is a jewel of a piece that sparks the imagination, taking listeners on a stirring, beguiling journey and recharging the spirit.
Piano Piano is released on 22nd January 2021. For further information or to order the album visit here.
Watch the video for the single Maggie here: