“The two singers on Time and Distance do very well, with the Grammy-winning soprano Hila Plitmann once again displaying her agility, range, and purity of sound (I particularly loved her in The Benediction), while mezzo Janelle DeStefano is warm and engaging in the reflexive and melodious The Ocean of Forgiveness.
As far as the poetry goes, I found the present album to be even more interesting than the one I have previously reviewed. We are talking contemporary music, and these lyrics and poems are, well, very contemporary indeed. (The song derived from) Kate Gale’s poem “Those Who Loved Medusa” … describes how Medusa, before being made into a monster, was simply a woman who was the victim of repeated abuse. The lines are powerful and fit right into recent events.
This theme of the here and now continues with Mark Abel’s own strong poetry in the short cycle made up of The Long Goodbye, The World Clock and The Nature of Friendship, which describe the gentrification of San Francisco and the impact of psychotherapy, social media and technology on human relationships, complete with a quotation of Berg’s Lulu.
Even more political is the song I liked the best, The Benediction, when again the composer writes his own courageous lyrics, addressing the fractured nature of current American society, all the way to the gun-toting lone wolves who commit mass murder: “Somewhere a young man cleans his gun. ‘They have stolen my America,’ he cries. Who will draw the poison from his heart? A girl or God, we pray.” … Despite its somber tone, The Benediction ends on a positive note: “Of this she is sure: yesterday is gone and open hearts must point the way. And with her go the hopes of all, from sea to shining sea.” [Reviewer’s note: Insert goosebumps here].
In summary, this is an artsy (in the good sense), intelligent, sensitive and sophisticated album that encourages deep thinking when it touches a number of contemporary issues, with exquisite lyrics and technically accomplished instrumentalists and singers. It is a very recommended purchase for lovers of contemporary music and poetry.”