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
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.
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
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
'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.
is more laid-back and thoughtful. What a lovely
melody has been crafted from the hands of this
continues this theme, and the artist's comment that
she is, "passionate
about making music that evokes emotion and soothes
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
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!
Falls' has an opening that reminds me of Ketil
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.
favourite track of mine is 'Overcome'. It is unusual
because of its electronic sounds towards the end
(these embellishments are also popular with Ludovico
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.
'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.
is an outstanding album. Take a bow, Jennifer Ann. I
give this album my highest recommendation.