I enjoy piano pieces. They’re particular good when you need a listening experience that has the qualities of a one-on-one experience: intimate, focused, personal. Sometimes, though, finding a piano piece in the classical genre can be trying; they lack some of the modern bells and whistles we desire, such as catchy hooks and not-overly-complex harmonies and song structure. They both, the modern and classical, want to elicit an emotion from us but it’s the modern-day compositions whose music is more native to our ears, and thus more apt to elicit emotion (i.e. Ludovico Einaudi).
Then, enter the solo piano versions of Jukebox the Ghost’s music. Jukebox the Ghost is a power-pop trio from Washington, D.C. The first time I listened to their music was at a friend’s kid’s party. Many of my old college friends were there, lingering around until well into the night, having beers and resurfacing inside jokes as if beasts breaking free of icy prisons, bent over in laughter at their sudden arrival onto the scene. At one point, a friend of mine, who also served as my best man, said, “Have you heard this band?” We preceded to prop ourselves against the playground in the backyard and listen to Jukebox the Ghost through the speaker of an iPhone 4. Despite the speakers being the size of a tic-tac, big sound and heart blared out in a tinny way across the backyard. Us, which had been gabbing non-stop after months apart, were silenced as we listened.
Now, a solo piano version of the album has emerged. The catchy hooks and modern song structure our native ears desire are present in every track. Every song is beautiful. Many seem like songs a bride could walk down the aisle to. Many seem like tracks you could play as the backdrop to a video of your kids. That is because the music is intimate, focused, and personal. It’s found the formula for modern piano listening that is capable of drawing out the emotion of the 21st century listener.