Pinebrook resident Ryan Stewart releases third album
September 30, 2014
In 2008, Ryan Stewart fulfilled a lifelong dream of recording his debut album "Equanimity."
The music was a mix of piano and orchestrated works, and that fed his desire to begin work on his second album, "In the Dreaming Hour," which was released in 2010, and continued the composer’s musical excursion into contemporary-instrumental music.
When it came time to start work on his new album, fittingly titled "One Journey," Stewart, who recently moved from Salt Lake City to Pinebrook, took a long, deliberate look at his life.
"The songs are inspired by some of the experiences I have had and some of the things and relationships that I cherish," Stewart said during an interview with The Park Record. "This album, in a sense, encapsulates some of those poignant moments for me in my life," he said. "You find that there are many smaller journeys and when you sum them up together, it becomes what we call our lives.
"As we go through life, we not only go through time and space, but also meet various individuals who can have a profound affect on us," Stewart said. "Sometimes that’s something that is taken for granted, because we live in this crazy, fast world where we are so connected with technology. It seems the more we are connected with technology, the more busy we are and the less time we spend in what I call genuine relationships."
In addition to life’s journeys, Stewart was intrigued by his love of traveling around the world with his wife, Cindy. And this album encapsulates some of their experiences.
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"I’ve always had a passion for the world at large, other cultures and languages," he said. "I was a little crazy when I was in high school and I signed up for Spanish, German and Russian. Ever since then, I’ve tried to maintain some of that passion.
"Hopefully this can be an album for people around the world," Stewart said. "Music is universal and its something we understand without language comprehension."
The 13 tracks that comprise "One Journey" were created organically.
"Music is something that I have to allow to unfold," explained Stewart, who cited such diverse artists such as Led Zeppelin, David Lanz, Herbie Hancock, Chopin and Rachmaninoff as his influences. "I have to let each song be born when they are supposed to be born."
To facilitate, the pianist would allow himself to drop into quiet, reflective sessions during the night.
"Sometimes I would sit at the piano, and other times I would sit in a hot tub," Stewart said. "Some days I would get some inspiration. Some days I wouldn’t."
Over the past year, Stewart wrote more than enough songs to fill an album, and began sorting through these pieces.
"I asked all kinds of questions, like ‘Do the songs fit the concept of what I want to convey?’ or ‘Do they sound right together?’" he said.
Stewart discovered that sequencing the tracks in a somewhat chronological order helped with the album flow, so he kicked off the album with a song called "When We Met."
"That title could mean different things for different people," he said. "It can mean when they met their significant others, or when they met their first child or first pet.
"For me, it was about my wife, who is the anchor in my life," Stewart said. "She has lifted my dream up on her shoulders and is a true soul mate."
One of the standout tracks is called "Under the Willow," which is highlighted by a violin and the voice of Stewart’s 13-year-old daughter, Aysia.
"When I was a kid, there was a willow across the street in the cul-de-sac that I lived on and when I was 12 and 13, I would go lay under it and just daydream," Stewart said. "I was very lucky to be able to talk Aysia into singing on the album, because not only did I feel her voice was perfect for the piece, she was also the same age I was when I laid under that tree."
The song was inspired by Stewart’s travels to Ireland.
"It does have a Celtic feel to it because the willow is very symbolic in Ireland and that’s one of the places we love to visit," he said.
The violin on the songs was performed by Monte Belnap, a renowned Provo-based musician who sits on the executive board of the American String Teachers of America Utah.
In addition, some of the other tracks feature cello, played by former Utah Symphony cellist Nicole Pinnell, and all the tracks were mixed and engineered by Stewart and Guy Randall.
"We are so lucky to have the quality of musicians we do in Utah," Stewart said. "They performed the music better than I had ever envisioned it."
Moving to Pinebrook was another step in Stewart’s continuing journey.
"I love the local scene in Park City and there is such support for local musicians," he said. "That’s one of the reasons why we moved up here."
Stewart recently landed a weekly Sunday gig at Good Karma.
"Houman Gohary at Good Karma is a wonderful man and chef, and he has given me the opportunity to perform at his restaurant," Stewart said. "I’m also looking to do several private concerts. There is something magical about the intimate settings. People seem to be more connected, so I’m working some of those out right now."
Ryan Stewart’s "One Journey" will be released on Wednesday, Oct. 1, on iTunes, http://www.CDBaby.com, http://www.Amazon.com, and http://www.Bandcamp.com . For more information about Ryan Stewart, visit http://www.ryanstewartmusic.com.