Songs for Smiler McGee by Jon Dahlander
After an on again, off again, presence in the music scene spaning more than 17 years, Jon Dahlander has returned with is stunningly beautiful solo piano album, Songs for Smiler McGee written and composed as a tribute to the son he and his wife a loved and lost.
In the 14 years of Jared’s fragile life, he earned the nickname of Smiler McGee amongst several, and in this delicate collection of songs without words, his father pays tribute to a life that bought joy, love, pain and happiness. Each of the pieces is uncomplicated but intricate, cathartic in a reflective style and appealing in their pure nature.
Characteristic of the years of caring for a medically delicate child, where the days are filled with challenges, the album is reflective; not in a sad way, but in one of acceptance and joy.
Titles to the tracks give an indication of the gentle nature of the works, with pieces such as Angel Daydream which has a nice little up-tempo aspect and Origami’s Dream, reflective of creating a thing of beauty from a something as simple piece of paper or fabric. Odd Jobincreases the tempo to a sense of refreshing busyness, such as is found when in hurry to complete that ‘odd job’., right now.
Be Thou My Vision, is a traditional Irish Hymn thought to have been created in the sixth century by Irish Christian poet Saint Dallan, eventually being set to the folk tune commonly referred to as Slane, a piece in which Dahlander has managed to introduce the very essence of the Irish people and countryside.
With a medically fragile child there is far too much time for tears but in between there is joy, laughter, happiness and peace which has been capture in the exquisite piece Time Between Tears.
Beyond the Moon segues delightfully into the final piece Until Then, which while measured and thoughtful, holds a gracious sense of release and acceptance, an understanding that life gives and takes and yet continues to flow ever onward.
The music of Jon Dahlander has changed over the many years since, as a youngster playing trombone, would practice the piano in the solitude of the music room after band practice. He would create songs without words, never giving consideration to the aspect of one day becoming a musician of note for his solo piano works.
Inside the album cover is a joyful picture of a little boy with his father. Overlaid are the words which are at the very heart of delicately created album
‘Every day is another gift from God
Love those around you unconditionally
Smile as much as you can
Keep all things in perspective