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Album Review

Lynne Arriale Trio: The Lights Are Always On


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Lynne Arriale Trio: The Lights Are Always On
Music with "a message" need not be inscrutable or bombastic, as pianist/composer Lynne Arriale proves time and again on The Lights Are Always On, whose ten original Arriale compositions are dedicated to caregivers, healers, truth-tellers and defenders of democracy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the brazen hoax-fueled attack on the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021.

In fact, much of the music on Arriale's sixteenth album as leader is more understated than emphatic, favoring a self-controlled and purposeful approach over one that shouts about the heroes and heroines to whom she is paying tribute. Even so, Arriale's salutations are no less heartfelt or moving than acclamatory anthems whose thunderous volleys pierce the sky. If there is a downside, it lies in a similarity in mood and tempo that prevails throughout. The only number that could be gauged as more than moderate is "The Notorious R.B.G." (for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg), and only barely so at that.

A number of the tributes are warm yet unhurried—"Honor" (for Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman), "Loved Ones," "Into the Breach," "Walk in My Shoes" (for Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis)—while others embody kindred sentiments at a slightly nimbler pace, with "slightly" the operative word, as there is nothing on the album that comes within shouting distance of exuberant. Within those boundaries, Arriale and her teammates (bassist Jasper Somsen, drummer E.J. Strickland) work well together, albeit music this even-tempered should pose no special problems for such seasoned professionals.

As Arriale's piano is the focal point, it must be noted that her manner on The Lights Are Always On is poised and pleasing but by no means exceptional. She is simply very good at what she does, and delivers the message without hyperbole or pretension. That frames an earnest and charming homage, one that should land easily on many ears.

Track Listing

March On; The Lights Are Always On; Sisters; Honor; Loved Ones; Sounds Like America; The Notorious RBG; Into the Breach; Walk in My Shoes; Heroes.


Lynne Arriale: piano; Jasper Somsen: bass; E.J. Strickland: drums.

Album information

Title: The Lights Are Always On | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Challenge Records

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