Gia Margaret – Romantic Piano
By Kate Trebra | Top Tracks: Hinoki Wood, Cicadas, Guitar Piece
I first listened to this album on an hour-long bus ride through rural Seoul, the quiet ambience reflecting the lush mountains, the pensive tones matching the light drizzle outside. Romantic Piano is twenty-six minutes of ambient bliss, rolling synthesizers, and touching instrumentals that combine to make a landscape of gorgeous sound. Over the last few years, Gia Margaret has cemented her sound amongst natural ambience and soft synth loops, creating a comfortable home in between her melodies.
The opener, “Hinoki Wood” is short yet sweet. It is a melancholic reflection translated into piano, tried and true to the title of the album. Each key Margaret presses keeps a human touch, the soft taps of her fingers just barely audible under the warm fuzz of the notes. Strings lurk underneath the surface, quietly propelling the mischievous sprinkles of notes. The piano stops, and you are transported into nature amidst the crunching leaves of “Ways of Seeing”.
“Cicadas” has a warm tone that’s reminiscent of the Midwest summers I had as a child, staying outside in the sticky air with neighborhood friends until I was inevitably called inside by my mother. It feels like the crunch of a s’more that’s probably too burnt to be eaten, but delicious, nonetheless. “A Stretch” is a car ride home at midnight with only dimming streetlights to show the way. The endless loop of what seems to be a tumbling washing machine in the background compliments the key change to something jazzier than what has been previously explored, twin saxophones racing the piano.
“City Song” startles the ambient atmosphere that the previous tracks built up. Margaret croons about fading memories, saying that “In a flashback I saw you, with so much to tell”. It’s the first track that features her voice since 2019’s There’s Always Glimmer. While the vocals are new in this setting, they’re certainly not unwelcome by any means. Her voice is a simmering sweetness on top of the piano, sticking with you far after the song has come to an end.
If “City Song” startles the listener, “Sitting at the Piano”, “Guitar Piece”, and “Juno” tuck them back into the blanket of ambience constructed by Margaret. Each track is on the shorter side of its counterparts but shouldn’t be overlooked. They individually carry their own pocket of nature with them. “Sitting at the Piano” is accompanied by a bird’s song, “Juno” by the warbling synthesizer that has familiarized itself with the album. If one thinks the name “Romantic Piano” is a limitation, they should look no further than the rich yet tender notes on “Guitar Piece”, showcasing Margaret’s ability on the guitar.
Margaret replicates the early summer heat effortlessly in her music, calling the feeling of sore muscles and burnt skin to the forefront of each track. Romantic Piano is best listened to outside, watching the sun set with headphones firm around your ears. Romantic Piano is better days and pool trips wrapped into a never-ending half hour.