Freelance Music Reviewer
What You Should Know
David Billingsley, Founder and CEO of The Billingsley School of Music, released “Hymns from Grandma’s Living Room,” his solo piano debut album on May 15, 2020. You can order the album right now on iTunes.
There are 14 incredible piano songs available for streaming on digital platforms: ‘It Is Well with My Soul,’ ‘I Surrender All,’ and ‘Amazing Grace’ are 3 songs I enjoyed the most. All three songs are traditional gospel hymns, and Billingsley pays incredible homage with this new album.
If there’s one thing to know about David Billingsley’s piano solo debut album, it’s that the music is most definitely soothing to the spirit — permits introspection — completely demonstrative of God’s warm embrace.
I’m especially pleased with “Hymns from Grandma’s Living Room” because it comes from a respectable artist, whose experience and artistry has afforded him opportunities to share the stage with Stokley, The Vü, Sounds of Blackness, and more.
What It Sounds Like
Coming at a perfect time, “Hymns from Grandma’s Living Room” provides solace and strength during the COVID-19 pandemic. The instrumental music Billingsley provides on this new album helps ease my mind into a calm and steady space – easily calling for affirmative prayers for myself and the ones I love deeply.
The music sounds like a peaceful home…. It is whimsical, soulful, nostalgic, and dynamic. If you like music by Shirley Horn, or The Piano Guys, David Billingsley’s new album will do you well.
“Hymns from Grandma’s Living Room” is a peaceful play, perfect for streaming while in my prayer closet. And especially in the evening, when I’m leaving my burdens at the altar like Jessica Reedy.
LISTEN TO ‘IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL’
LISTEN TO ‘AMAZING GRACE’
Born in Racine, Wisconsin, Billingsley was a child prodigy — he played instruments such as piano, keyboard, drums, and more as a youngster — professionally making his debut as a musician at age 11.
The spirit of professionalism is undeniable throughout “Hymns from Grandma’s Living Room,” notably in my favorite track on the album: ‘Amazing Grace.’ What makes this song so effective and creative is the discernible, traditional melodies that we would usually hear in ‘Amazing Grace.’ The song opens sounding just like the traditional hymn, and then Billingsley adds his smooth touch to it — easily making me press repeat.
Best Songs On The Album
The top songs I enjoy the most on “Hymns from Grandma’s Living Room” are the following:
1. It Is Well with My Soul — This song is another traditional one, enhanced with Billingsley’s soulful & passionate style. The song opens with a prayer, reminiscent of Aretha Franklin’s prayer on Trey Songz’ debut studio album intro.
2. I Surrender All — I listened to this song while on the city bus, headed to Petco to purchase a couple clown fish for my new saltwater tank. Since there were no words in this song, I took advantage of all the freedom that comes with an instrumental — I simply appreciate instrumentals, because they give me real estate for affirmative prayer, and uplifting self-talks. Just like when I’m listening to Shastro, Chopin, Bach, Anugama, or Adam Plack & Deepak Chopra.
3. Amazing Grace — The original song was written in the 1700’s, by poet John Newton; and has since been covered by countless artists. From an honest prayer, Newton created the words to ‘Amazing Grace’ when his vessel was overcome by a storm. What makes this song so precious is not only it’s traditional roots, but it’s timeliness. Everywhere you look for good news, there’s a story about how COVID-19 is affecting the lives of so many. And not unlike the song’s original writer, we too call out to God for mercy and grace in these tumultuous times.
For fans of
Billy Porter, Jon Schmidt, Shirley Horn, The Piano Guys, Yo-Yo Ma
Final Word: Highly Recommended
Of course, I’m highly recommending you stream “Hymns from Grandma’s Living Room.” If you let it, Billingsley’s music can hit you as hard as Le’Andria Johnson’s “The Experience (Deluxe)” live album. Yes sir, it can do you right, just like Mary Mary’s compilation “Go Get It,” and even Jonathan McReynolds’ “Life Music.”
For me, David Billingsley’s “Hymns from Grandma’s Living Room” is essential, contemporary gospel music — just like Jessica Reedy’s debut studio album, “From the Heart.”
I’ve already downloaded “Hymns from Grandma’s Living Room” to my Apple Music library, for offline streaming.