At first, Gia Margaret called her new album Romantic Piano to be a bit cheeky. Its spare, gentle piano works share more spirit with Erik Satie, Emahoy Tsegué- Maryam Guébrou and the ‘Marginalia’ releases of Masakatsu Takagi than they do with, say, a cozy and candlelit date night. But in that cheekiness lies hidden intention: across the gorgeous set, “Romantic” is suggested in a more classic sense, what the Germans call waldeinsamkeit. Its compositions conjure the sublime themes of the Romantic poets: solitude in nature; nature’s ability to heal and to teach; a sense of contented melancholy.
“I wanted to make music that was useful,” says Margaret, vastly understating the power of the record. ‘Romantic Piano’ is curious, calming, patient and incredibly moving — but it doesn’t overstay its welcome for more than a second. Margaret’s debut, There’s Always Glimmer, was a lyrical wonder, but when an illness on tour left her unable to sing, she made her ambient album ‘Mia Gargaret’ (another cheeky title!) which revealed a keen intuition for arrangement and composition not fully shown on ‘There’s Always Glimmer’s lyrical songs.
Romantic Piano, too, is almost totally without words. “Writing instrumental music, in general, is a much more joyful process than I find in lyrical songwriting,” she says. “The process ultimately effects my songwriting.” And while Margaret has more songwriterly material on the way, Romantic Piano solidifies her as a compositional force. Originally pursing a degree in composition, Margaret dropped out of music school halfway through. “I really didn’t want to play in an orchestra,” she said of her decision, “I really just wanted to write movie scores. Then, I started to focus more and more on being a songwriter. Romantic Piano scratched an old itch.” ‘Romantic Piano’ does indeed touch on a rare feeling in art often only reserved for the cinema — a simultaneous wide-lens awe of existence and the post-language intimate inner monologue of being marooned in these skulls of ours. How very romantic!