If you don’t get an immediate jolt of feel-good in the midst of “Night on the Roof,” the opening track from Uwe Gronau’s new release, Visions, then a) this might not be the disc for you and b) you might be dead. In fact, the majority of the 20 tracks here, which Gronau offers up as soundtracks to a movie in your head, are upbeat pieces of pop-song length, equal parts New Age and contemporary instrumental, and they’re catchy. Pete Sayers’ guitar on “Under the Pont Neuf” rings with a folksy flair before Gronau beat-drops it with magnificently weighty synth chords–and yet the undertone keeps its simple charm. “Old Man in the Rain” takes a similar tack, but with Gronau’s lyrical piano and the sound of rainfall. For pure uplift, head to “A Passion Play.” Gronau pushes huge keyboard runs out of his Hammond B3 while supporting it with whistling flute tones and raw guitar lines carved out of his Virus synth. The tracks just roars with a soulful feel–I keep going back into it! “Summer in the City” also has energy to spare. Gronau’s piano here is light yet potent, a melodic base he pumps with speedy synth lines. It may put some listeners in mind of (for example) John Tesh, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s another song shot through with true joy and it just revels in its happiness. Some Visions tracks work in a jazz feel–Gronau cites Joe Zwainul and Weather Report as early influences. Matthias Keidel’s sax on “Through the Backyard Window” pairs off Gronau’s electric piano and synth backdrops to give it a perfect smooth-jazz/fusion tone. Again, if you don’t find yourself caught up in this, tapping your toes and feeling it, seek professional help. “Oasis” presents itself simply but effectively with a small-combo feel. Hand percussion (synthesized) and rimshots make a backdrop for electric piano.
Visions is a very pleasant ride courtesy of a multi-talented artist. There’s a lot to take in, but as Gronau keeps the songs in fairly similar territory it’s easy to get comfortable with it. There are a couple of tracks that feel weaker than the majority, but in a set of this size, they can be shrugged off. The hook here is the positive energy throughout; there are truly uplifting moments, those points where music does what it’s supposed to do–affect you directly. If you’re in need of something peppy and fun and well-made, Visions is a firm choice.
Available at CD Baby.