If you’re looking for something charming and relaxing to listen to, look no further than multi-instrumentalist Mark Bruland’s new release, BEEing Human. Across 18 short tracks, Bruland provides warmth and kind smiles in pieces that clearly reflect his love for music and the life around him. (His liner notes offer the inspiration behind each track, which range from his daughter, who was diagnosed with a rare condition called Opsoclonus-Myoclonus Syndrome, to..well, honeybees.) His music stretches over a broad range without feeling stretched. “Suite Honey Bee” is a straightforward New Age piano piece accented with swelling synth strings. The piano is crisp and clear, a gentle ballet for bees going flower to flower. “ELK and Little G” also showcases Bruland’s piano, and is so touching that it makes me want an album of nothing but piano from him. But, as they say, wait–there’s more. “An Afternoon with Steve” takes folksy acoustic guitar and pairs it with clarinet over quiet synth chords. A great laid-back feel. “A Cool Breeze for Louise” strides into view with a jazzy little attitude for itself and proceeds to sing its story. There’s a nice little sax break in here that should make you smile. Speaking of which, if “My Laughing Heart” doesn’t cheer you up, you may already be dead. The sweet laughter of a Bruland’s daughter ushers in an optimistic, uplifting piece with guitar, piano, congas, and some tasty bass. Just pure fun. Bruland wanders toward ambient territory with “Alexander’s Grove,” where soft synth notes sigh and hush, laying down a base for more heartfelt piano. (There’s a touch of Suzanne Ciani-esque romance in here.) I have to say that there are a couple of tracks here that pile on a little too much sugary cuteness for me, but they’re the exception on such a strong release. While the punny-though-charming title gave me pause when I first went to listen to BEEing Human, I am enough repeat listens into it–and quite gladly so–to say that Bruland has hooked me. His talent and his heart make for a superb listen.
Available from Mark Bruland’s web site.