Reflecting Forward
  • Released: October 13, 2017
  • 14 track(s)

“Reflecting Forward” is a profound healing journey through music. A personal and reflective collection of 14 original tracks with titles such as “Apology”, “Forgotten”, “Reverence” and “Renewal”, the record explores human emotion on an intimate and personal level.

Nominated for Album of the Year 2017 by Whisperings Solo Piano Radio.

Recorded in Sedona, AZ at Piano Haven Studios. Joe Bongiorno, recording engineer and mastering.

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  • Ryan Marvel

    Ryan Marvel January 3, 2018


    From Kathy Parsons,

    I listen to an incredible amount of music in the course of writing reviews of new recordings and sheet music, and as much as I enjoy that, every once in awhile, an album comes along that smacks me upside the head and makes me stop and say “WOW!” Ryan Marvel’s Reflecting Forward is that album. I have thoroughly enjoyed Marvel’s previous releases, but this one is so intense and so emotionally powerful that it won’t be an easy task to take it out of my player and move on to something else when the review is finished. That doesn’t happen very often.

    The fourteen original piano solos emerged from a personal crisis and the challenges and healing processes that followed. In Marvel’s own words: “The record represents emotions and reflections throughout the year, and what I experienced in trying to heal, cut out the noise, and rely on my own trust and personal growth. The album, to me, represents pain, anger, realization, healing, peace, love and renewal. It’s not meant to be a sad album…As I said in the liner notes, renewal is an ongoing process…and we all go through things in our lives that require us to look deep inside of ourselves and re-commit ourselves to family and friends. It’s personal, it’s human.” All but two of the tracks on the album were recorded at Piano Haven Studios in Sedona by Joe Bongiorno. The other two were recorded at Coupe Studios in Boulder, CO. Bongiorno did the mastering and the piano sound is absolutely perfect.

    All of the pieces on Reflecting Forward are excellent, but I’ll mention some of my favorites. The album begins with the title track, a piece that begins with an intense intro that represents the sudden, devastating change that happened earlier this year. The rest of the piece is much softer and more cautious, representing a tentative hope. “Forgotten” was composed about Marvel’s 11-year-old daughter and her dance between being a child and a teen - a difficult time in every young girl’s life. Heartfelt and bittersweet, it truly shows the tenderness of a loving dad. “Conflict” features passages with the piano strings muted and the plucking sound that makes contrasted with the flowing quality of the more “normal” way of playing the piano - very intense and deeply emotional. “Apology” goes really deep and dark, but is also hypnotic and haunting. The piece lightens gradually as hope for forgiveness returns. The repeated pattern on the left hand in “Horizons” represents the steadiness of the horizon while the right hand is more improvisatory and reflects both the uncertainty and the possibility of this past year. “Then, Now” is almost a soliloquy and feels very isolated, introspective and brutally honest. “Stillness” goes even deeper inside, expressing loss and despair, but also finding rays of hope to cling to. “Somber” is very spare with lots of damper pedal utilized to create an effective atmosphere of dark reflection. “Hopeful” is much lighter as the dark clouds start to give way to sunnier skies and moments of joy. “Beginnings” closes this incredible album with cautious optimism and hope amid much change and complexity.

    I don’t use the term “masterpiece” very often, but I really feel that Reflecting Forward qualifies. Ryan Marvel says that creating the music brought him much healing and peace, and I’m sure it will do so for his listeners as well. I give the album my highest recommendation. It is available from, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Again, WOW!
    November 12, 2017

  • Ryan Marvel

    Ryan Marvel January 3, 2018


    from Candice Michelle, Journeyscapes:

    Authentically personal, prepossessing instrumentals
    Ryan Marvel is a pianist and composer whose latest album, Reflecting Forward, consists of 14 original solo piano compositions that were inspired by a time of great personal challenge and abrupt changes for the artist. Intentionally having kept the song titles simple, most of the pieces are given just one word names, each perfectly capturing an emotion, experience or moment in time that could be likened to listening to a musical scrapbook or photo album.

    The opening title piece, “Reflecting Forward”, begins with a quiet, solitary note that builds in intensity, resolving in a chord. Repeating again and then fading to silence, it is followed by gentle piano chords that bring-to-mind some of the quieter compositions of George Winston. One especially intriguing piece is “Conflict”, which opens with what sounds like muted piano before moving into higher register chords and notes. The muted piano effect returns once again, as the arrangement builds into a song that effectively reminds me of music from Liz Story’s “Escape of the Circus Ponies”. Seemingly moving between minor key ruminations and major key celebrations on this album, Ryan displays excellent command of dynamics and compositional arranging. He patiently allows each chord to ring out on the piano and isn’t ever in a hurry, nor does he rush the compositions – and no single note on his piano is played before its turn. The beautiful closing piece is ironically titled “Beginnings”, which subtly shifts between emotional moods and atmospheric tones. Beginning in a pensive fashion, Ryan moves on to a more assured approach to the music, before concluding in a series of gently-played upper register notes.

    Authentically personal yet without revealing too many secrets, Ryan says that he hopes these pieces will resonate with listeners emotionally as well as musically – and they certainly did for me. I especially love the album’s balance of light and shadow, as well as its intriguing element of inconspicuous restraint, not to mention Ryan’s obvious penchant for composing prepossessing instrumentals!

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