The best music is neither practical nor predictable; but with that said, the most refined music follows an order that takes years, and often decades, to master. In her Album of the Year Award-winning effort Singing the Nocturnes, Elizabeth Sombart demonstrates the kind of poise that is required to follow such an order, and although the competition she faced for this coveted top prize from Indie Shark was quite stiff, to say the least, it was ultimately her distinct manner of play that made this LP the best of the year by far. Singing the Nocturnes exploits our general concept of Chopin’s best work delicately, allowing for its star player to reinvent some of the material from an arrangement standpoint without deviating from the core aesthetics of the original composer at all. It’s often difficult to break down a cover album, particularly when its content is as familiar and at times stoic as what we hear in this record is, but through her admirably unique approach to the piano, this is a musician who demands our attention around every turn, even at moments that might have otherwise felt just a bit stock if presented by a different set of hands.
Without lyricism and devoid of production filler that would normally give an artist a lot of breathing room, especially in a recording as epically stacked as Singing the Nocturnes is, Elizabeth Sombart favors indulgence when and where it counts for something in this album’s tracklist, which granted her a significantly different profile from what a lot of other performers have been going with in the past year. 2022 was a banner moment for a lot of the minimalist artists who had been desperately trying to make something out of the surrealist movement in pop music over the past five years, but in this record, we find a pianist who is almost gleeful about adopting excess melodic and physical the same.
It would be unthinkable on the part of her closest contemporaries in and out of the underground, but that’s part of what drove me so wild every time I sat down to hear Singing the Nocturnes; it goes places, sometimes rebelliously, that others just don’t have the moxie nor the gumption to travel. Striking as some of the cosmetic elements in these tracks happen to be, they remain augmentations of an original work that has stood the test of time quite well and all the more serves as an ironic introduction to who this performer is (for those who were not already bewitched by her previous work).
(2022) ALBUM OF THE YEAR – Elizabeth Sombart – Singing The Nocturnes (LP)
Indie Shark proudly presents Elizabeth Sombart with our award for Album of the Year 2022, and if what this artist has exhibited in her acclaimed LP is any sort of reflection on her depth as a pianist in multiple capacities, I would expect to see her name in the headlines again in the next year. Singing the Nocturnes is the very first album to win this trophy without offering a shred of original material per se, and yet it doesn’t feel like a record filled with covers we could have unearthed from a bevy of sources. Sombart imparts personality in a year that felt quite bleached and underwhelming for those of us who were turned on by the excitement left over from a landmark year for indie music in 2021, and as someone who takes a considerable amount of time perusing the deepest realms of the underground for smart listens, I can attest to the authenticity and uniqueness of this piece. Once again, congratulations to one Elizabeth Sombart for her impeccable and award-worthy work on this LP.
Read my original review posted back in January 2022: https://indieshark.com/awards/pick-of-the-week/elizabeth-sombart-singing-the-nocturnes-lp/
Once again congratulations to Elizabeth Sombart for her amazing tribute to Classical Pianist Pianist Frederic Chopin. #elizabethsombartalbumoftheyear
Mark “The Shark” Druery