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A Bit Of Light
Tobin Mueller & Friends
Cover of A Bit Of Light
A Bit Of Light
available on YouTube Music, Amazon, Apple Music, Spotify; plus: Digital Booklet

A BIT OF LIGHT is alternative rock/folk fusion album featuring NYC session all-star and Grammy winner Donny McCaslin-saxes, Broadway standout Entcho Todorov-violin, D.C.'s own Bill Barner-clarinet, Norwegian bluesman Thor Oliverson-bass, Texas rocker John Luper-guitars, English fiddler player Martyn Kember-Smith, and Tobin's favorite jazz collaborator Woody Mankowski-soprano sax. Tobin weaves all these friends and musical influences into a fascinating collection of 14 songs. Several Jazz musicians, who also appear on Tobin's Rain Bather and If I Could Live Long Enough albums also contribute.

Tobin's vocals are authentic and unabashedly honest. His lyrics are poetic and impressionistic. He has an uncanny knack for letting the music say what is between the words, as if every line is a duet with an unseen spirit. There are countless ghosts on this eclectic, cross-genre recording.

The first three tracks are variations of the Tango, originally written for a film about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde set in Bucharest. What follows are songs mostly written from 1999-2006, although "When You Left" was written in 1972, the second song Tobin ever wrote (following his sister's death), and "Loolay Lullaby", written after the birth of his second son in 1984. The songs range from Tango to jazz fusion to folk to alternative rock. The lyrics include stories about a lonely man imagining a relationship with a waitress, last words of a dying father, love's pains and peacefulness, obsessions and madness, and a lullaby to an infant son. Here is what one reviewer wrote...

A Bit of Light is a collection of fourteen of Tobin Mueller's songs, written and composed over a 35-year period. I have reviewed Mueller's two previous releases, which were both solo piano, so this is quite a change! A Renaissance man of sorts, Mueller says on his website, "I've journeyed through musical theatre, fiction writing, political essays, domestic humor, jazz and progressive rock. Some of these I want to journey through again. I've written ballets, film scores and children's music; poetry, historical fiction and video games. I dug it all. But I've always thought of myself as a composer, first." Photographer and illustrator can also be added to this list.

A Bit of Light is very difficult to categorize (a good thing!), with poetic lyrics that seem very personal and autobiographical set to music that is influenced by jazz, progressive rock, and even folk stylings. It is quite an interesting exploration of a mature artist and his views of life, both past and present. Mueller provides much of the instrumentation as well as the vocals, but is joined by several other musicians on guitar, violin, woodwinds, piano, trumpet, and bass. The CD begins with a poignant and passionate violin solo by Encho Tudorov. Organ enters, and the two instruments provide an exotic back-up to a smoldering love song, "Be My Love." "Bring On the Storm" is a fascinating layered piece that sounds like several voices but is only Mueller's. Backed by guitar and simple percussion, it is one of the "folkier" songs. "Crazy Story" is jazzier, with heavy bass guitar and sax. "The Waitress" reminds me of an early Harry Chapin song. It's an interesting story song about loneliness and wanting to connect with a friendly stranger. "Can't Complain" is reflective about how events from earlier in life prepare us for what is to come. Something of a family effort, the lyrics were written by Tobin and his wife, Suzanne, and the music was composed by Tobin and his son, Anton. This is one of my favorite songs from this CD. "Let Me Play" is very much a jazz song about love gone cool. "My Heart Still Beats" is rhythmic and upbeat in the first half of the song, telling a mysterious story about an island party, a girl dancing and drinking too much, and being raped in the jungle. The song then dissolves into a nightmare, with a woman's voice reciting parts of The Lord's Prayer and the sound of a beating heart. A strange and unsettling song! "When You Left" is a simple folk song that goes back to 1972, telling of the great emotional loss at the end of a relationship. "Final Words" was lovingly written for a beloved father. "Loolay Lullaby" goes back to 1981, a sweet lullaby for a new baby."

The songs on A Bit of Light run an emotional gamut, telling of life's joys and sorrows, deep love and the end of love. Check it out for a very different listening experience! Recommended!" (For the full review, see MainlyPiano.com.)

- Kathy Parsons, Mainly Piano
Play button 1 Be My Love
Play button 2 I Have Dreamed In Another
Play button 3 Bring On The Storm
Play button 4 Crazy Story
Play button 5 The Waitress
Play button 6 Icarus
Play button 7 Door In My Heart
Play button 8 Hold On To The Thread Of Love
Play button 9 Can't Complain
Play button 10 Let Me Play
Play button 11 My Heart Still Beats
Play button 12 When You Left
Play button 13 Final Words
Play button 14 Loolay Lullaby

All music and lyrics by Tobin Muller, except Can't Complain: music by Tobin & Anton Mueller, lyrics by Suzanne DelTufo.