Elise Lebec has had a career where she was a solo pianist, a post-punk-pop-singer, and an instrumentalist within an ensemble setting; and although she is an American, she has spent time building a following in both Australia and England. So when you know all that, it makes perfect sense that on her new album, Heart Song, she plays five solo piano pieces, sings in a new agey but also gentle pop voice on one song, and performs with some other musicians on the rest of the tracks (mostly with cellists and a flugelhorn player).

Lebec co-produced this latest CD with producer/engineer Michael Rosen who has worked with Santana, Journey, Papa Roach, Tesla and Huey Lewis -- so the project has a very good sound. In addition, if I remember correctly, Lebec’s last album was all solo piano and very improvisational. This one, however, not only has a number of duo and trio tunes on it, but all of the material sounds much more composed and more carefully-crafted, although she retains a spirit of playfulness and sometimes journeys off into unexpected directions. The music is mostly instrumental except for one vocal tune, background singing on one other and spoken words on a third piece.

The music is still a little too free-form to fall smack-dab in the modern-classical camp (despite the proliferation of piano-cello duets), but it works wonderfully as a new age recording. The sound is especially warm because it is nearly all acoustic instrumentation with just a smattering of electronic keyboards here and there.

New age music lovers, or anyone interested in the latest in quality contemporary instrumental recordings, should definitely check this one out. You might just find yourself laying some greenbacks down for a CD or digital downloads. It’s that good.