There are some people in this world who are annoyingly talented and Shane Thomas fits this category to the hilt. And then some.
Officially the youngest person in history to be signed to a music publisher (EMI) at the age of 10, Shane Thomas has wowed newspapers, royalty and even bastions of musical prowess such as the Royal Academy of Music. He’s appeared on many TV shows and numerous stars have raved about him, but I take notice when someone like Jamie Cullum (in my mind one of the great, great Jazz pianists around) counts himself a fan you know this kid is no flash-in-the-pan talent. Certainly he plays with the flair of someone much older and the sensitivity of one who is experienced in the hard knocks of life.
If you don’t believe me, check out this video of young Shane performing one of his compositions last year.
His album ‘From Me to You’ features a range of Shane’s compositions written between the ages of 8 and 14. Though some are a little bit 80s Richard Clayderman-like and slushy quasi-romantic melodies abound, this is beautiful music with moments of rich impression. Once Shane Thomas loses his ‘child prodigy’ mantle I can see him having a long career as a film composer if this material is anything to go by; you can’t help but picture a movie going on as you listen.
‘Rich impression’ is, I think, an appropriate term for there is just one piece in the entire album which is not composed by the young man, yet fits the style of his playing perfectly. Choosing the ultimate ‘impressionist’ composer, Claude Debussy, and taking arguably his most famous piece, Clair De Lune, Shane Thomas does an admirable job both technically and in bringing out the emotion of one of the most beautiful piano pieces in the world. This is a piece I’ve enjoyed playing myself for 25 years so I was delighted to hear his efforts. With the exception of one slip at bars 21-22 where he plays incorrect bass notes, he does an excellent job. Irritating though it is for me (it comes in a passage where the bass should ascend linearly so the error is a little glaring for Debussy fans) I have to remember that I’m 43 and have played this for many years but Shane Thomas is nearly a third of my age and plays Debussy better than I do. I live in a glass house so I’d better not throw too many stones. Unless you play this piece yourself you’ll find nothing wrong with it at all and thoroughly enjoy Shane’s rendering.
If you love romantic piano music with rich, movie-like thematic material then you’ll want to buy this young man’s album. It’s good stuff regardless of his age. It’s out of this world when you factor in his limited years.
Have a listen to this piece of his written when aged 9. If this amazes and moves you, you will love the whole album. ‘From Me to You’ is out at the end of February but you can obtain some of the tracks from iTunes here – Go buy!