Tobin Mueller | Hard Place to Find

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Song of Myself A Bit Of Light TOBIN MUELLER's Official Website Album Notes & Links to Lyrics

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Easy Listening: American Popular Song Jazz: Jazz Vocals Moods: Type: Vocal
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Hard Place to Find

by Tobin Mueller

Prolific composer Tobin Mueller displays his arranging skills on covers of his favorite songwriters. His voice and piano explore the journey of a life well lived, searching for that Hard Place To Find.
Genre: Easy Listening: American Popular Song
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Paradise
4:52 $0.89
2. Don Quixote
6:27 $0.89
3. Shelter from the Storm
5:47 $0.89
4. Still Crazy
4:30 $0.89
5. Letters from Rome
6:31 $0.89
6. Dulcinea
5:26 $0.89
7. Bob Dylan's Dream
4:40 $0.89
8. Alfie
3:45 $0.89
9. No More
4:17 $0.89
10. Heaven
3:38 $0.89
11. Show the Way
4:03 $0.89
12. Let Yourself
3:35 $0.89
13. Moon River
2:01 $0.89
14. Somewhere
3:36 $0.89
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Hard Place To Find is volume two of Tobin Mueller's covers, intimate and unique takes on his favorite songwriters. It follows the success of his first cover album, Song of Myself.

All songs include themes of journeying, questing, reshaping, recalling, or searching for that Hard Place To Find. Just Tobin Mueller at his piano, searching. He weaves each song into a growing tapestry, finding common threads in music from varied artists like Bob Dylan, Burt Bacharach, Paul Simon, Gordon Lightfoot, David Wilcox and Stephen Sondheim. His additions of lesser known artist Jai Uttal and Anders Osborne are welcome and fresh. Mueller adds one of own compositions into the mix, Let Yourself, completing this spiritual-musical travelogue.

The journey begins with Richie Haven’s lyric “Paradise is a hard place to find.” Arrangers have a free hand to interpret chordal settings and melody, but only rarely do singers embrace the same freedom regarding lyrics. Mueller, however, includes several unique takes on lyrics as well as musical stylings. For example, in Richie Havens' Paradise, Mueller explains "I just couldn't sing 'searching is such a waste of time' and mean it." The new lyric reads: I used to think I'd be a prophet, find reasons in these rhymes. But I think that kind of searching could be a pleasant waste of time.

Mueller says, "Each of these songs tells a partial story of myself, of my journey. I’ve changed some lyrics to keep that story honest."

Since Sondheim’s No More follows Don Quixote on the album, he sing "No more windmills" instead of "No more witches." It is interesting for those who know some of these songs well to catch both subtle changes like this, as well as greater rewritings, as Mueller does to Wilcox's Show The Way.

Mueller also adds clever musical interludes to some of the tunes. Dear Prudence is a playful coda to Dulcinea. Interjecting Dangling Conversation into Paul Simon's Still Crazy creates a haunting flashback moment. Juxtaposing Hal David’s question, “What’s it all about, Alfie?” with Sondheim’s “No more questions, please” adds meaning to them both.

Perhaps the most startling remakes are on the two Bob Dylan songs and the Gordon Lightfoot epic, Don Quixote. Each verse of these longer tunes is arranged differently, bring to life the lyrics in special ways.

For more of Mueller's music, from solo piano to jazz ensemble to progressive folk and prog rock, please search Tobin Mueller.



to write a review

Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
From the first moments when Tobin Mueller laughs and calls his piano style “Reggae soft shoe,” it is obvious that this isn’t going to be an easy-listening oldies collection! The second volume in Mueller’s series of vocal covers, "Hard Place To Find," shows him to be in somewhat stronger voice than on 2012’s "Song of Myself," sounding more seasoned and expressive than painfully smoke-damaged (from volunteering at Ground Zero in the days immediately following 9/11). All of the fourteen songs in this collection tell tales of journeying, seeking, and recalling episodes in life’s great and sometimes tragic adventure. Mueller altered some of the lyrics to better suit his own story, keeping them honest and coming from a very personal perspective. As with "Song of Myself," this recording is just Mueller and his piano, creating an atmosphere of intimacy and spontaneity. His long history in musical theater often shows in his dramatic delivery, and these new interpretations come from classic rock and folk to stage and a couple of pop tunes - some very familiar and some not so much. From the laughter at the beginning to the tears at the closing, this is Tobin Mueller’s story told through his interpretation of some of the great songs of the past several decades.

The “Reggae soft shoe” is the lead-in to Richie Havens’ “Paradise,” where each verse given a different treatment from bouncy and upbeat to darker and more introspective. Gordon Lightfoot’s “Don Quixote” begins with a heavy blues intro that continues to provide the rhythm while the right hand’s playing is lighter and jazzier. A completely different approach from the original, it paints a vivid, dramatic portrait of this classic character. Bob Dylan’s “Shelter From the Storm” is a tale of love and loss brought to life through an emotional expression of the lyrics. Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy” becomes an autobiographical vignette in another man’s life. “Letters From Rome” was a new song for me, telling an ocean-faring tale with playful good humor. “Dulcinea” is a passionate love song from the musical, "Man of La Mancha," with a coda based on Lennon/McCartney’s “Dear Prudence.” “Alfie” was another surprise. Played with a simple, heartfelt piano accompaniment and sung with depth and sincerity, the true meaning of the song comes through clearly yet gently. Jai Uttal’s “Heaven” is another new song for me, and it’s a beautiful ballad of searching and persevering. “Let Yourself” comes from a musical Mueller co-wrote with Randyl Appel, Runners In a Dream, about a young girl caught in the horrors of The Holocaust. In the song, she is encouraged to go within to find her dreams. I’ve always loved “Moon River,” another song about following dreams, and this piano solo is lovely. “Somewhere” from "West Side Story" ends the set with one of the most poignant songs ever written. By the last verse, Mueller’s emotions overtake him, bringing this very powerful album to a tearful close.

Tobin Mueller is something of a Renaissance man of the arts, and "Hard Place To Find" presents another volume in his prolific and impressive output. More of an art-music album than a pop release, I recommend it if you are looking for something different and deeply personal!