On the Keys, a truly luxuriant and beautiful new release, is a three-track EP from independent multi-musician Criss Starr. Two of the featured songs are instrumental cover versions of classic R&B songs. The third instrumental, "Break It Down," is a new Criss Starr composition.
Stevie Wonder is a musical icon, one of the finest songwriters to ever pick up a pen. This is evidenced in many ways. One example is the multitude of artists who are drawn to his music. But the most conspicuous proof is the sheer number of cover versions of his songs by artists residing in numerous genres. "Ribbon in the Sky" is one of Stevie’s all-time prettiest songs and it is given a marvelous makeover treatment by Criss. Puffy, thick clouds dance across the sky of your inner mind as Starr tenderly plays the piano passionately from his heart and soul. A gentle guitar waltzes along in tandem with the unrushed piano, simultaneously weaving a beautiful aural tapestry.
Prince’s classic song "Raspberry Beret" is given nurturing care and in Criss’s hands becomes smooth as silk and as hypnotically calming as waves breaking softly onto the shore. A gentle beat, which sounds like the rhythm of a metronome, pulses trancelike while Criss deftly adds his affectionate keyboards. Starr’s original song "Break It Down" is a splendid feast of sensuous chill-out and soulful quiet storm abundance that carries you away to that dream state where lovers frolic. He masterfully takes brief samples, one being from Dave Brubeck’s classic "Take Five," to previously uncharted soft and warm sensual territory.
All three songs fit seamlessly together and leave the listener wanting more, barely whetting the appetite. Containing moments of genuine beauty, each is a fresh, stimulating and mesmerizing slow burner. Together they provide a fabulous introduction to the music driven by the Criss Starr touch.