There are two ways to appreciate David King’s long-awaited debut solo piano collection Solitude. You can close your eyes and use your own imagination to create personal images as he takes you on an intimate and soulful, inspiring/energizing and rhythmically varied journey which reaches places in the heart the stark title only hints at. Or, perhaps more gratifyingly, you can dig into the classically trained, multi-talented composer and songwriter’s emotional backstory for illumination.
Shortly after he released his impressive 2010 singer/songwriter collection Listening through the Night, David’s mother and longtime piano teacher passed away. He recorded the part vocal, part instrumental EP Lament in response to her loss, then took an extended break from composing before emerging as part of the Toronto based harmony driven band Kin Collective. Co-writing helped him get creative again at the piano and left him with some piano music that didn’t fit into the ensemble vibe.
Revisiting those and some other unfinished pieces launched the fresh wave of beautiful new expressions that led to the new 10 track collection which honors and pays homage to the gifts his mother left him. While some tunes, like the haunting, meditative “Dirge” and gently hopeful “Morning Prayer,” are solemn reflections, others like the lilting sunrise-filled opener “Awakening” (inspired by birdsong early one morning at a lakeside cottage), the empowering, sparkling dance “Rushing Water” and dynamic, fast and purposefully rolling “Momentum” (influenced by a train trip King took across Canada) are bursting with the exuberance and joy of life.
Though many of the tunes on Solitude were directly inspired by more recent memories, the ten tracks allow King to finally grieve his mother’s loss, appreciate everything she did for him, and remind her (and us) that every day is precious and worth embracing, no matter how challenging and painful. A few of his titles – most impactfully, the stark and moody “Deep Breath” and “Acceptance” – offer sound advice for how to deal with the changes we all go through as we process love and loss and work towards a brighter day.
As King tells the story, he started out thinking, as per its title, that Solitude would be an album of only quiet, reflective piano music – but along the way, as he drew on specific memories, he expanded his vision to showcase a wider range of dynamic possibilities. This choice infuses Solitude with a hopeful element that not only helps make an impactful album even more colorful, but which allows us to share in the celebration of his mother’s wonderful life and legacy in a deeper way.
Listen to Solitude here: https://open.spotify.com/album/3I3xCqbfEgqXaLZBnFz6U6?si=wkr_IKgzRzmdeYluIstkFg