Transforming pain and injustice into love and compassion is a rendering that has been universal to poets and prophets for centuries. In present times, choosing to amplify community and positivity through art can seem like a radical act. With the arrival of People Are My Drug, Phil Cook is taking the spark from the lights left on by musical heroes and offering a torch for listeners as they navigate their own dark corners. Where 2015's Southland Mission illuminated for listeners what Phil Cook hears in his head, this latest record lays bare the way that music makes him feel. Side A alone, culminating with the shiver-inducing ''Another Mother's Son,'' has the capacity to light a fire in even the coldest of hearts. Having only recently stepped into the center of the stage as a solo artist, Cook now takes a moment, citing the power of community as his thesis statement. Each track asserts that he alone is no greater than the sum of the people who have brought him to this moment. Instead of standing on the shoulders of his heroes, Cook is humbly kneeling at their feet.
Multi-award-winning composer Paul Reale has a distinctly American voice, enriched and given touches of familiarity through references to folk idiom and musical ancestors such as Bartók and Kodály. This program brings together Reale’s works for cello and piano. His earliest, Séance, is a haunting combination of modernist sounds and Baroque melodies. The operatic Cello Sonata No. 1 daringly uses What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor as the backbone of its finale, and the recent Chopin’s Ghosts explores the Romantic composer’s long, weaving lines and evokes his poetic spirit.