Dr. Music Reviews “Lifting the World.”

Lifting The World – Tom Sharpe

This is something extra ordinary.

That’s right, two words.

Sure, it’s great music done by a fine musician, but first I need to explain something that transcends all of that. I need to explain how beyond ordinary this music is.

I try to picture Tom Sharpe in the studio recording this record and that picture never comes into focus for me. The sounds that have been captured on this recording seem to emanate from the Earth and from the emotions themselves rather than from any human hands. Now I know this all sounds a little overwhelming and deep, and that is the intention. This is a piece of art, a piece of gripping music that is large, illustrious, and sometimes overwhelming. I once said, if dirt could sing it would sound like Johnny Cash. I’d now say, if the Earth itself could speak to us, Lifting The Worldis what it would say.

Tom Sharpe is primarily known as being the drummer for Mannheim Steamroller and Dennis DeYoung (formerly of Styx), but on this solo release we find Sharpe reaching far beyond standard drums. He is also a formally trained classical pianist, and those keyboard skills are a prominent feature throughout Lifting The World. Sharpe’s ability to blend his piano with so many types of drums and percussion instruments is superb, but it is the pristine joining of those sounds with the sweeping orchestration and choir voices that makes this something truly epic.

Think of this as a precision cut diamond. It’s beautiful to look at from afar, but when you look deep into it you can see what really makes it attractive. Every facet of a fine cut gem reflects light in a different way. You can see bright yellows and lighter green colors of joy and happiness, while other cuts leave streaks of blood red and solemn hues of purple. Lifting The World has all of these moods and shades, even the small black surfaces that seem to blink on and off as the diamond moves about. As this symphonic journey spins from piece to piece, all of these emotions get flung from the eye of that musical tornado.

The opening “World Speak” has an urgent tribal drum sound which moves into “The Truth In The Light,” which is an uplifting piano-based song (the yellow light in the diamond). All of this culminates on the title track, Lifting The World, Part I” which features a choir doing a stirring part reminiscent of a modern day “Carmina Burana: O Fortuna”. The dark piano tone and the low hum of a cello are sure to give a chill. If you don’t grip your seat a little tighter with this playing you should check your pulse. As the ominous title track slides eloquently into “Three Stories,” you get another piece of music that makes your emotions dance and stir. Again, it’s the underlying tension of the humming cello that lays out the canvas, but it’s the bit of upbeat Asian flair that colors the mid-section of this one before Sharpe’s drum march and cymbal splashes carry it to a new level. “Counting Crosses” finds Sharpe returning to tribal drumming, which serves as a vehicle to the dark and brooding “Bloodline”. The waves of emotion that flow through this piece are nothing short of spectacular. Every instrument (including the outstanding choir), every emotion, and every element that makes this record work is firing away on this piece. This just might be the pinnacle of the entire record for me.

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