Stan Stewart – “In Memory of Tom” EP

I don’t want to get too cliche here, but music really is the universal language, and, in my opinion, that language has more potential for expressing emotion than any of the various ones we humans speak. Where words fail, music keeps speaking.

As someone who lost a best friend suddenly to a tragic accident, I know well how holing yourself up in a music studio for several days can offer quite the healing journey.

When you have mastered your instrument, in this case the piano, to the point of using it to improvise and express what you are feeling inside, it’s a tool that can liberate and soothe.

This is what Stan Stewart’s “In Memory of Tom” EP is saying to me. It’s a beautiful expression of the sound of grief being processed, struggled with, and ultimately liberated.

This recording was created over three days in an attic studio, after a close connection had passed away, and Stan’s piano was what he knew he needed to use to process the grief.

You can hear that in the ebb and flow of chords and the notes connecting them. As each song progresses, they tell a story about the inner turmoil Stan was going through.

“Dancer” sets the stage, letting the listener know that the story of an important person in someone’s life is about to unfold. “Teacher” lets out the dissonance and incongruent turmoil in some of the notes as they try to sort themselves out, similar to what I would imagine were the feelings inside of Stan at the time he played them.

“Poet” is more playful, and “Scientist” a more serious version of that poetry, with more of that dissonant struggle being evident.

“Human Being,” the most basic element of what any of us are, ends the collection with more definitive, resolute assurance. Almost as if recognizing and stating that we are all humans, calling on us to accept that, and assuring us that it will all be OK.

The final chords — deep, solid, and resolved — let you know that Stan has reckoned with some things here.

It is clear that each song describes a different quality of Tom, as Stan remembers him, and I feel like I got to know Tom after listening to these songs.

Using a language that can say more than one thing at the same time is powerful, as we learn here with “In Memory of Tom,” and I urge you to take a listen.

Stan’s Songwhip page contains links to the album on various streaming platforms. There is also an accompanying blog post.

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