Set on a Hill
  • Released: March 10, 2009
  • 9


Album of the Year for Whispering's Solo Piano Radio (2009), Set on a Hill was produced by Will Ackerman, founder of the Windham Hill label.

"Will," the opening track of his new solo release, Set on a Hill, doesn't grab you the way a first song is "supposed to"…rather it invites you in. It opens with one simple tone, first played alone, then repeated in different rhythms--a beacon, or lighthouse, on the open sea, calling you home. From the start, it's obvious that the spaces between notes have as much value as any notes themselves. The music is influenced--but not overrun--by Lawson's producer, Will Ackerman of Windham Hill Records. (Ackerman was behind many of George Winston's eponymous albums as well as those by guitar great Michael Hedges.)

All Lawson's songs, in fact, give you the chance to hear the music, and simply exhale, to breathe. His music affords the time that most of us never take in the day to rest our mind--as if to say, things can be put on pause--even for just a few moments. Although a CD of nine original instrumentals, there's a heavy lyrical element to the music. "Will" seems to unfurl in the studio, a call & response conversation, continually developing between that single note, and richer phrases. The title track is part country waltz--and part moodier, quicksilver chord changes. The two (thankfully) never quite resolve. Throughout, the music is engaging, but never takes itself too seriously: "A Goldfish Named George" recalls a fishes' shimmering movements, with little right-hand flourishes, and singsong melodies.

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