Pam Asberry's Review of "On the Other Side"

Cathy Oakes
On The Other Side
Reviewed By Pam Asberry

“On the Other Side” is composer and solo pianist Cathy Oakes’ fourth release and her first venture into the world of orchestration. Five years in the making, it is imbued with all the emotion, passion and reverence born of the myriad of life experiences that took place over the course of that time. It is, in a word, spectacular.

The album opens with the majestic and flowing “Hymn for Peace,” a prayer for the United States. “From This Day” was composed for Oakes’ oldest son Michael and his wife Kristin to celebrate their marriage. With its lyrical melody and dramatic key change altering the color and tone of the piece, this one perfectly captures both the joy and solemnity of a wedding day. “Echoes of Time” is a musical portrayal of the most precious and memorable moments of a lifetime, both happy and sad, with rapid shifts between major and minor keys, low notes and high, flitting about as thoughts so often do. “Home with Annie” was written in memory of Oakes’ cousin Bob Shingleton and his wife Annie, its poignant piano melody conversing with the oboe in a song of love.

The merry “Kessia’s Waltz” was composed for Oakes’ granddaughter Kessia and put me in mind of a carousel ride. “Puddle Dance” was inspired by Oakes’ experience watching a friend teach his toddler granddaughter how to jump in puddles. This one is a favorite and sounds like so much fun to play! It perfectly captures the innocence and delight of one of the simple pleasures of childhood and made me want to get outside and stomp in a few puddles myself! The epic and cinematic “Flight of a Princess “ was written for Oakes’ youngest child pursuing her dreams as a real-life princess at a theme park in Florida and is another favorite. “Lullaby from Afar” is dedicated to the women who never have the opportunity to hold their babies. Its pure melody sings like a mother’s voice over a gently rocking left hand accompaniment and brought tears to my eyes.

“Just Us” is an improvisation written for Oakes’ husband, Buddy, as a valentine gift and musically summarizes ups and downs of a love affair that has survived life’s challenges with triumph. The beautiful “Midnight Tide” ebbs and flows like the memories and regrets during the wee hours of the morning. The theme for “Sienna’s Dream” was composed by Oakes’ then nine-year old granddaughter Sienna during a holiday visit and skillfully developed into a memorable composition. I look forward to future collaborations between these two generations! The tender “Ripples on the Water” reminded me of the way “everything affects everything” and the impossibility of measuring how much impact our behavior has on the lives of others.

“Remnant Tears” refers to the tears of joy and sorrow that catch us unawares long after initial stages of grief have passed; the music reflects both sorrow and acceptance. “Heal Me” was composed as Oakes recovered from a serious illness and expresses both questioning and yearning. “Beloved Promise” is dedicated to Oakes’ son David. Graceful and affectionate, it is an expression of his steadfast nature. “Be Still My Soul” reflects Oakes’ delightful personality as an artist while remaining absolutely faithful to the original hymn. The title track, “On the Other Side,” written as Oakes processed her grief over her mother’s death, conveys both sorrow and hope; it is both virtuosic and profoundly moving.

“On the Other Side” is an amazing musical journey. Arguably Cathy Oakes’ finest album to date, I give it my highest recommendation!

Thanks to Pam for a great review!



Kathy Parson's Review of On the Other Side

On the Other Side
Cathy Oakes
2018 / Sierra Keys Music
76 minutes

On the Other Side is the fourth album from pianist/composer Cathy Oakes and her first release in five years. The album is dedicated to Cathy’s late mother, Trellis McIntyre, and was released on her birthday. In the liner notes, Cathy writes: “Thank you, Mama. I love you and I’ll see you On the Other Side,” which obviously explains the title. The album was recorded at Dreamworld Productions and was produced, engineered, mastered and orchestrated by Doug Hammer. The orchestrations themselves are light and add depth and tonal color to the Cathy’s expressive piano. The seventeen tracks include pieces written for friends and family, as well as events in everyday life. All are original compositions except for an original arrangement that is a medley of two favorite hymns. It’s a very engaging collection sure to warm the heart and brighten the day!

On the Other Side begins with “Hymn For Peace,” a prayer for our nation. The melody is uncomplicated but deeply heartfelt, with a cello enhancing the poignance of the piano. “From This Day” was composed for Cathy’s oldest son and “daughter-in-love” (I love that!!!) to celebrate their wedding. The sweet melody and graceful flow of the piece express an abundance of love and tenderness - a favorite! “Home With Annie” is dedicated to the memory of Cathy’s cousin’s and his wife who are now reunited “on the other side.” A lovely oboe and cello accompaniment runs throughout the piece and is the perfect complement to the piano. “Puddle Dance” was inspired by watching the innocent joy of a friend and his granddaughter jumping in puddles after a rainstorm. Playful and carefree, I defy anyone to listen to this piece without smiling at least once! “Flight of a Princess” reflects the magic and wonder of a special place and a beloved daughter chasing her dreams. “Just Us” is a deeply emotional love song improvised as a Valentine gift for Cathy’s husband. Embellished with gentle string washes, it’s another favorite. “Midnight Tide” reflects on the way the joys and sorrows of life tend to ebb and flow as late-night thoughts when sleep won’t come. Cello again plays a lovely and emotive counterpoint to the piano. “Heal Me” was written as a prayer for healing and has the open-hearted sincerity of someone truly in need of comfort and support - another very beautiful piece! The hymn medley of “Be Still My Soul” and “It Is Well With My Soul” combines two favorite hymns of Cathy’s mother, her close friend, and her own - a stirring combination! The title track is the piece Cathy wrote as she processed her grief at her mother’s passing. Although the piece is sad, it expresses profound hope as well as a sense of loss - one of Cathy Oakes’ best and most moving pieces to date!

I hope it won’t be another five years between albums, but On the Other Side was certainly worth the wait! It is available from, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.

Kathy Parsons

Thanks to Kathy for a wonderful review!



On the Other Side Released

I am proud to present to you my newest CD, “On the Other Side.”  This is a project that has been five years in the making. The songs were born of the many experiences over the past five years of my life - the marriage of children, children moving away from home, my mother and other loved ones passing and the joy of sitting at the piano with my granddaughter as she wrote the theme for Sienna’s Dream.  It is my first venture into the world of orchestration. This music was recorded, orchestrated and engineered with the amazing Doug Hammer of Dreamworld Productions. It has been a journey of joy, sorrow and reflection and the experience of a lifetime. I invite you to share the journey with me.

You may hear sample tracks by clicking on the “Song Clips” tab and choosing “On the Other Side” at the top of my page or you may hear them in my store.  You may order your CDs through my store or through CDBaby, where digital downloads are also available by using the CDBaby tab on the right of this page. It will also soon be available through popular audio streaming sites such as iTunes and others.  

Thank you for listening and for sharing my journey.




On the Other Side CD Presale

 My new CD, "On the Other Side." is not up on my website yet. But if you want to pre-order a copy, just Paypal $15 (shipping included) to I'll get a  copy in the mail to you immediately!!! This one is TOTALLY different! It is orchestrated by the AMAZING Doug Hammer!!!



Cathy Oakes "On the Other Side" releases September 27

OK, folks - it's a WRAP! This CD is as perfect as the AMAZING Doug Hammer and I can make it! I'm working with the AWESOME Matt Streiby to get the cover done and then, it's off to post production. If everything goes perfectly, I'll have it in my hands by my mom's birthday, Sept 27. It would be very fitting since the album is in her memory. I can't wait to share it with you!!!!!! 

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