Piano-Heaven Award Winner:

Reflections

Jennifer Ann

CD Baby

2015

jenniferannmusic.com

 

 

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Mainly Piano

 

 

 

The stunning setting of Roehampton

 University in South London.

 

 

This album is available to download

 from Amazon / CD Baby,

and also at Kunaki:

 

 

 

This splendid album marks a turning-point for this reviewer, in that it is the first that (reluctantly) has been downloaded rather than be a physical CD purchase. At the time of writing, CDs of this album were no longer available and so digital music it had to be!

 

A rare foray into the world of television advertisements first alerted me to the music of classically-trained Jennifer Ann. The familiar melody of 'Mad World' appeared as the soundtrack for a commercial, and the music had a certain energy about it and was such a refreshing take on the original, that it sent me scurrying to research its performer. This led me to discover that American-born Jennifer (now residing in London) had released an album of original compositions, and I wasted no time in downloading her excellent debut album. 

I decided to open my self-created album with the aforementioned 'Mad World' instrumental track- which is not actually part of the album (a vocal version of 'Mad World' is also available). The piano (with light synthesiser touches) is at times delicate and gentle, and at other points full of zest. My favourite section is around the 3:20 minute mark, where the piece takes on a whole new life of its own. I don't think there can be a better instrumental version of this very well known track in existence.

'Solace' is the first actual track of 'Reflections' and gets the album off to a stunner. What a divine melody resonates from the piano here. Again, within the piece, there are quieter and gentler moments, but in sharp contrast, there are upbeat and livelier sections. What never alters, however, is the beauty of this track, and this sets the standard for this remarkably consistent twelve-track album.

In life, we all need to pause and take stock of the situation, and this is magnificently captured by 'Breathe' which is an altogether gentler track. There is a definite sense of reflection here, and this track is perfect for when the listener wants a quiet, relaxing moment.

Track three is entitled 'Sentimental' and opens like a soothing lullaby. Gradually, the tempo increases and the piece awakens. Another catchy melody that has me reaching for the 'repeat' function time after time.

If ever music teachers wanted a composition to demonstrate the structure of a piece of music, then they would be hard-pressed to find a better example than 'With Heavy Hope (Re-envisioned)'. It has a mournful opening, and yet at the same time is achingly beautiful. Gradually, the piece builds and as it does so, it becomes more positive and uplifting culminating in a section bursting with positivity around the 4:50 mark. This is a terrific piece of music, and ranks as one of my all-time favourites. 

'Bliss' has its quieter spells, but is at other times bursting with energy and vitality. This is music to get fingers, toes- anything and everything really- tapping and dancing. I imagine the composer has a lot of fun playing this challenging piece.

'Fallen Leaves' is more laid-back and thoughtful. What a lovely melody has been crafted from the hands of this gifted pianist.

'Reflection' continues this theme, and the artist's comment that she is, "passionate about making music that evokes emotion and soothes the soul," does not surprise me in the slightest. In fact, there are two common themes to this album. One is the consistent beauty of each track, which really is an outstanding feat for such a lengthy album, and secondly, there is a very strong feeling that this album is at least in-part autobiographical, perhaps capturing the highs and lows of this musician's life to date.

'Finding a Way' instantly hooks the listener with an appealing little melody, that builds and develops. There is certainly a sense of optimism here; a feeling that there is light to be found out of the darkness. The piece grows to a definite conclusion, with some resounding finale notes- "decision made" for this composer.

I am intrigued by the name of the ninth track: 'Orion'. After a slow opening, the track bursts into life- probably capturing the listener by surprise. There are shades of Ludovico Einaudi here in the gentler parts. Another gorgeous track!

'Darkness Falls' has an opening that reminds me of Ketil Bjørnstad's 'The River (IV)'. It is dark and rather moody- clearly all is not well. There is energy to the piece- the heart is a-pounding: there is so much to resolve! Mid-piece, the music feels angry and sharper, before things calm down a little as the track closes.

Another favourite track of mine is 'Overcome'. It is unusual because of its electronic sounds towards the end (these embellishments are also popular with Ludovico Einaudi), but it certainly makes for an interesting and enjoyable listening experience. The piano section is perfection on the ivories. It really is a glorious tune, and the electronic part towards its conclusion is a fun and original touch. The piano sees out the track with its wistful melody.

The album bows out with 'Carrying On'- an upbeat, 'making the best out of the situation' piece, and a lovely way to close this superb album.

I love 'Reflections' from start-to-finish, and the only mystery is how this artist has not been snapped-up by a major record label. Jennifer Ann oozes talent. She has an ear for melody, and her compositions are fresh, original- and straight from the heart. Best of all is her ability to produce an album in which every track stands out as a winner. Eight years in the making it may have been, but this has been time very well spent. For the sake of listeners around the world, let's hope that we do not have to wait such a long period of time for her next album.

'Reflections' is an outstanding album. Take a bow, Jennifer Ann. I give this album my highest recommendation.

 

S.C.

August 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections

Jennifer Ann

 

 

 

Pianist and neo-classical composer

Jennifer Ann

 

Jennifer Ann is a classically-trained pianist and flautist. She is also a soprano. Jennifer cites musicians such as Ludovico Einaudi, David Lanz, Dustin O'Halloran and Olafur Arnalds as musical influences.

 

Originally from Circle Pines, Minnesota, USA, Jennifer Ann completed her BA in Music Studies at the College of Saint Benedict in Saint Joseph, USA, in 2013. Her passion for the psychology and healing nature of music led Jennifer to study for her MA in Music Therapy at Roehampton University in London, England, UK, which she completed in 2015.