The Artistry of… Steve Amirault

By John Devenish

I think Steve Amirault even makes the piano feel; just like he makes the listener feel. His music and his music-making sings to you, not just at you. I have been lucky enough to have seen him warming up before a performance and there is a grace to the way he approaches the moment. In essence he captures them with the same focus and sensitivity in preparation as he does when he is in actual performance. It is genuine. Moments captured, moments curated, moments nestled and nurtured, moments graced. The piano feels, the listener feels, the music respected; the artistry is unmistakably Steve Amirault.

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Whole Note Review of "Hold On, Let Go


Steve Amirault’ssolo CD Hold On, LetGo is a wry commen-tary on life. This moodcontinues throughoutthe 11 songs on thedisc and is sometimesmade intricately drollperhaps, by the fact that he sits in splendid isolation at the piano, interweaving the lyrics with the shimmering sonority and yearning rapture of his accompaniment. Any formof solo performance is a lonely pursuit. The artist and the engineer are inevitably separ- ated by glass which invariably accentuates the experience. It is in this very atmosphere that Amirault’s music rustles like raw silk.
The listener is treated to spiritual flights far above the mundane and journeys through worlds at once zealous, reflective and tran- scendent. Amirault’s Dindi is a little gem, elementally melancholic yet infinitely hopeful. On Moon River and God Bless the Child, he uses elongated syllables to evoke the crepuscular and the dramatic. In this way, Amirault shapes every phrase with ardent sensitivity, lingering or propelling the narra- tives as they heighten the music’s ineffable meanings. There is, of course, a lot more.
Steve Amirault is an exceptional artist and he proves time and again on Hold On, Let Go that he has an innate ability to find a keen balance between poetry and intensity. His pianism, albeit featured here in the shadow of his spotlighted voice, provides a superb brand of animation, meeting the needs of the music exquisitely and fittingly, as equal to the loneli- ness of this music.
Raul da Gama


CD review by Irwin Block


"Hold On, Let Go"

Several years ago, pianist Steve Amirault, then based in Montreal, realized that he had a way with a song and as a vocalist could add a new contour to his art. Amirault always impressed with his lyricism and romantic bent, and in his latest CD — 11 pieces, including two originals — we hear how far Amirault, now based on Toronto, has gone in developing this combined art.


Just Believe, his opening tune, says it all: “Try to Believe in Yourself,” he chants, in this lovely, loving, tender ballad with integrity shining through the words and piano accompaniment. He follows with Jobin’s delightful Dindi, the ever–popular All of Me and Moon River with his own rhythmic approach, and a tender, but strong God Bless the child.

His signature: a quiet pianism and a vocal treatment that speaks from and to the heart. They combine to make this CD an enriching experience. He occasionally changes the timbre by overdubbing with the Melodica, and never fails, in his vocals and accompaniment, to hit that just-right chord.

Bye Bye Blackbird, Embraceable You, Lullaby of Birdland, Pennies from Heaven and What a Wonderful World — a songlist and treatment that makes us yearn for Steve to return to his second home in Montreal. Listening to this CD is the next best thing!

Critique de CD par François Lemay

Ici Musiques

Fraîchement installé à Toronto, l’ex-Montréalais originaire de Nouvelle-Écosse Steve Amirault nous présente son sixième album, Hold on, Let Go, premier disque en tant que nouveau résident de la Ville Reine. Pour l’occasion, le musicien se paie le luxe de la simplicité : pas d’orchestre, pas de flaflas, seulement un piano et une voix.

Si l’écoute peut paraître un peu déstabilisante, de prime abord, l’auditeur est rapidement séduit par le charme de la proposition et, surtout, par la capacité qu’a Amirault de la porter. Cela prend une voix qui a du vécu et un jeu pianistique solide pour éviter que les pièces ne s’effondrent à cause d’une mauvaise modulation de tempo, ou d’une interprétation vocale mal assurée.

Ici, Amirault a su choisir un répertoire qui lui va bien, passant facilement de Dindi, de Jobim, à Moon River, de Mancini, sans oublier une interprétation avec une teinte de whiskey dans la gorge de Pennies from Heaven. Parmi ces airs, quelques compositions plus personnelles qui ne détonnent en rien dans l’ensemble, ce qui démontre la qualité de son talent de compositeur. La pièce instrumentale Japanese Lullaby se démarque particulièrement du lot, car c’est une pièce portée par un paradoxe, celui où la légèreté côtoie la lourdeur.

Il faut dire qu’il a tout un curriculum, Steve Amirault : récompensé d’un prix Opus pour l’album de l’année (Breath), lauréat du Concours de jazz du Festival international de jazz de Montréal et gagnant de deux prix Juno pour des collaborations, sans compter les nombreuses nominations qu’il a reçues au fil des ans. Il a aussi partagé la scène avec des musiciens de calibre international comme Joe Lovano, David Liebman, Joe Chambers et Mike Clark, entre autres.

Bref, il faut avoir du vécu pour être capable d’assumer sa simplicité, et Steve Amirault le fait bien.