Fiona Joy (Hawkins) – New Album – Story of Ghosts
Having won many awards for her two previous solo piano albums, Fiona is destined to do the same with Story of Ghosts.
Fiona’s third solo piano album takes her fans on her journey of the past year of her life as she deals with a harrowing year in 2017 and makes no attempts to sugarcoat the emotional’s. The year included many friends and family members getting seriously sick, dying or going insane.!!
She bares it all over the course of these mostly grey-toned melancholy and vulnerable pieces, that draw on her classical background and impressionistic modern yet melodic composition.
‘There is a little madness in the music I write, it only pops out of the calmness momentarily, but enough to know that there is uncertainty in everything we hear, feel and experience. It’s much more classical and very connected to my roots” says Fiona .
“There’s a lot of emotion in it, that part was challenging. But when I get feedback from my fans that I’m touching their lives, and in some way making a difference, that makes it worthwhile.”
She uses the piano to weave interconnected tales with similar motifs – She opens the album with the uplifting and just whimsical enough “Song for Dunnie,” which she wrote for the funeral of Annette (Dunnie) Crossley, one of her best friends and business partner in her company Little Hartley Music. The lushly flowing piece represents a life full of vibrant brightness, good humour and joy.
“Story of Angels” moody hypnosis that leads to attempts to dance and then sudden dream-dashing stops into “Story of Ghosts” the deepest tale is told by the third story song. The contemplative “Story of Insanity” which alternates shards of light and night in a romp of anger tempered by gentle understanding. “Contemplating (Solo) which find Fiona deep in thought, seeking answers in the high notes as tension builds. “Blue Dream” whose high and low dynamics indicate mood swings that shift on a dime during crises. “The White Light” perhaps a place between worlds where high and low notes battle it out for our mortal hearts.
Fiona ‘s choice to work with producer Cookie Marenco reflects Fiona’s appreciation for high quality audio. “Even CD quality is unsatisfying when you’ve heard DSD or SACD, especially when played on a high-end system” says Fiona.
Fans of FLOW, the recently launched hit new age group featuring Fiona, Will Ackerman, Lawrence Blatt and Jeff Oster, will recognise the closing track “Before the Light” as the beautifully rendered foundation of “Arrival,” the opening track on FLOW’s self-titled debut. In the FLOW version, the darker edges of the piece get subsumed into a lighter hearted grooving vibe. Here it’s allowed to flourish in the shadows, exploring the heavy mysteries of life’s pain that occur before the healing – and wondering along the way if it will ever come.
Fiona recalls asking Ackerman once “What would happen if I ever got happy? Would the creativity dry up?” – since she’s built her artistry and fan base on her incredible musical embrace of sadness.
“No, Fiona, you will just start writing happier music.” He said, surprised at the answer “Maybe down the road, I’ll make a few happy songs”.
But for now, especially on Story of Ghosts we can enjoy the musical beauty and grace that she shares while working through the obstacles to make peace with the sorrow life has thrown her.
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Rachel LaFond – New Album – Encounters of the Beautiful Kind
Come along on a powerful musical journey inspired by Rachel LaFond’s experience, of being a stranger in a new country. New Zealand to be precise where she now calls home.
This beautiful solo Piano Album was recorded in high resolution audio at her home and mastered by the golden ears of Mike Bloemendahl.
The music explores universal human experiences: feelings of loneliness, worries about not being good enough, and the evolution we undergo as existing friendships change or fade while new connections spring to life.
This journey culminates in the realisation that as we bear each other up and connect with one another, we make the world a more beautiful place for all of us.
About Rachel LaFond:
Rachel LaFond is an American composer and pianist now residing in New Zealand who has been steeped in musicality her entire life. Her appreciation of the piano began when she was a toddler as her mother (a piano teacher) played with a young Rachel on her lap. She began formal lessons at age five, and by the time Rachel was eleven, she began teaching lessons herself. She lived in Vienna and studied piano performance there as a teenager, then returned home to major in piano at the University of Washington. After university, she continued to teach and perform professionally, but for years Rachel didn’t realise she had a talent for writing music hidden inside herself until David.
David she had met just weeks ago. Rachel couldn’t stop thinking about him on one rainy autumn afternoon, everything changed. Gazing out the window of her teaching studio, Distraction transformed into inspiration, and by the end of that evening she had finished her first original piece, Loving in the Rain. This first piece stood alone for a while as Rachel got swept up in life’s adventures: Rachel and David got married, quit their jobs, and embarked on a year of long-term travel around the world.
Rachel’s music is inspired by, and engages with, the full depth of human experience. Whether she’s capturing the heady wooziness of falling in love or responding to the chest-cracking pain of Barcelonans who suffered in the terror attack of summer 2017, her pieces are unflinching and compel the listener to lean into the feeling of the song for just a moment more. Rachel’s drive to bring beauty, light, and kindness to dark places through her music lends a striking sense of purpose to her creative work. And she’s just getting started.
All recorded in Auckland, New Zealand in Rachel’s home.
Mastering by Mike Bloemendahl
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Loren Evarts newest album Home Again
Home Again is the 6th original album, of this amazing contemporary pianist. It revisits several pieces previously recorded by Loren in the 1980’s, and eight new ones. It was produced by Grammy award winner Will Ackerman (Windham Hill Records) at his Imaginary Road studio in West River valley, Windham County, Vermont and was engineered by Tom Eaton.
Featuring Grammy-winning artists and Grammy-nominated Artists Eugene Friesen on cello (Paul Winter, Trio Globo), Rhonda Larson on many types of flutes (Paul Winter, Ventus) and Jeff Haynes on percussion (Pat Metheny, Pete Seeger), bassist Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel and King Crimson).
Besides Piano, Loren Evarts has been known to perform by singing, trombone, hammered dulcimer and organ.
Loren has performed professionally in the Connecticut area of USA in a variety of musical situations for over 40 years. He has been grateful to have been involved in performances with artists such as Dave Weckl (Chick Corea), Gerry Neiwood (Chuck Mangione), Everett Silver (Chuck Mangione), Mike Davis (Rolling Stones), Danny Stiles (Bill Watrous), Fred Vigdor (Average White Band), Rhonda Larson (Paul Winter Consort).
About Loren Evarts:
I was in first grade when I heard a fellow classmate play the piano, and I said, “Hey, I want to do that, too.” Of course, I had no idea that you had to practice, which made me think twice about my choice. But due to frequent beatings from my mom, I persisted, Partially kidding!
I started playing classical piano at age 7, but like a lot of kids, I started listening to pop radio in middle school. Fortunately, I was allowed to stick in a few popular tunes in my lessons along with the serious music. In high school I started to get influenced by jazz. My biggest influences were bands like Chicago and Tower of Power, Elton John, James Taylor, Carole King, Jazz singer Al Jarreau, and jazz pianists like Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Liz Story.
What can a crowd expect at a live show?
My music is probably best described as a mix of new age, jazz, classical and world. It’s piano-based but sometimes I will add a percussionist, bassist or woodwind player for concerts.
What are your future plans for 2018/2019?
Well, I am an American so, like many of my fellow citizens, I am looking to survive until 2020(enough on politics). But otherwise, At my stage of the game, I just want to put out a good product, and I hope to write some new material now that my newest album has been released. And that means I have to sit down at the piano and start! I am always gratified when people enjoy my music. I no longer crave being a big star. It’s nice being in this place.
Joel Leffler – New EP – Strip Me Bare
Following on from his ‘Run With The Wolves’ EP and tour Joel Leffler has released a stunning new EP “Strip Me Bare”, produced by long-time collaborator and ARIA winning Producer Peter Holz (Peking Duk, Gang of Youths).
The first single “In My Sights” from the new EP is the song which features a guest vocal from Melissa Jane. Joel and Melissa shared a house together and have worked together on numerous recordings. This poppy anthemic tune hits home and you can’t help but sing and dance along to this great party song.
Melissa: ‘Joel and I have always written and played together. Our voices blend & complement each other really well. I think this track is just one of those feel-good anthems. The chorus is super catchy, you’ve been warned.’
Joel: ‘I had this melody stuck in my head for weeks. I would wake up, drive to work & go to sleep all with the chorus sitting on the tip of my tongue. I have never been so haunted by a melodic idea as much as I have on “In My Sights”.
Pete Holz: ‘We’ve taken off from where the 1st EP left off and gone a little more into the synth and drum machine world - but still kept a lot of guitar and groove in there! A pleasure having Melissa Jade feature too - such a great singer and really bought another higher level of the track.’
Joel will be performing live at The Brass Monkey and other Sydney venues for the new release of Strip Me Bare.
Tailor Birds New Hot Album Stilts On The Water
Sophie Kinston is Tailor Birds.
Stilts On The Water Tailor Birds newest album is music that soothes the soul, warms the spirit, and ignites your passion.
This is world folk at its’ finest, music at its’ most raw, Tailor Birds combines electronic violin, live looping, foley art, and rich harmonised vocals, to create a sound like no other. A sound that is all about the vibe and positive energy, building an audience that is as diverse as much as it is one, you could say that Sophie is a traveling troubadour. She believes that music should not just be about playing one gig after another with just the music making an impact, but is also o about connecting people to something good again, in a world that is constantly changing. Music needs to inspire and placing Tailor Birds in a space that can do just that, it makes an impact greater than you could ever imagine.
Tailor Birds is currently touring through Australia and Europe
- Hi Andy Iorio,
- Tell us about the moment you decided to become a composer. What did your family have to say about it?
When I was very young, the moment that I really connected with music was when I saw the film “The Neverending Story”. I fell in love with the movie instantly and more importantly I was drawn into the music that went with the moving images. Shortly after seeing that movie, my parents bought me a keyboard – my state of the art Casio SK-1, (equivelent to a Fisher-Price “plunk and plop”) and I started creating my own little pieces and experimenting with sounds. I would set up my keyboard in front of my tv and mute the sound and create my own music for what I was watching. It was in that moment that I knew I wanted to be a composer and score a film of my own one day.
- Who are your early influences?
There are so many artists that have inspired me throughout my life! I was around 10 years old when I found my parents vinyl collection and started listening to the records I thought had the most interresting artwork on their album covers. Early influences included Pink Floyd, Billy Joel, Elton John and George Winston. As I got older, Ludovico Einaudi, Max Richter, Philip Glass, Yann Tiersen, Abel Korzeniowski and Hans Zimmer were at the forefront of my most inspirational composers. Simple tonality, beautiful melodies and soaring strings made for some of my strongest musical influences.
- What current Australian acts inspire you and why? What international acts?
I really like Sia; I think she has a great voice. I have been a fan ever since I heard her track “Breathe Me” in the final scene of the HBO show “Six Feet Under.” I have always been drawn to instrumental music most. So when I think of international artists, Ludovico Einaudi and Max Richter are the first two that come to mind. Both have unique musical signatures unlike any others.
- What is the first record you bought and why?
The first album I bought was Counting Crows “August and Everything After”. I loved Adam Duritz’s lyrics and the organic sound of the band. The instrumention was so unique for the early 90’s. The phrasing of Adam’s voice was also very different from anything else I had heard up to that point. I still listen to that album in it’s entirety today.
- Favourite artists of all time?
Billy Joel, Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, Ludovcio Einaudi, Max Richter, Philip Glass, Yann Tiersen, George Winston, Abel Korzeniowski and Hans Zimmer.
- Fave food or drink and is there a story associated with that?
I would have to say my favorite drink is tea. Hot or cold, it is the best to calm and relax me. I can’t pick a favorite one, but there is nothing I enjoy drinking more. I actually have a 5′ long tea station at home with over a dozen international artisan teas, tea sets and tea accessories displayed on it.
- Tell us a little about the new record and what a crowd can expect at a live show?
My music is mainly piano driven, with a cinematic and lush vibrant string section. It carries simple tonality with controlled harmony. Recently, I have been playing all of my concerts as solo piano performances. I feel it is more intimate this way and the audience can really connect with the music the way I composed each piece – always on the piano first, then with orchestrations built around the piano. Over the next year, I want to add a string quartet to bring the pieces to the live audiences the way they hear them on the album. My performances will then be a mix of piano and strings along with the intimate setting of solo piano.
Australia’s very own Contemporary Instrumental success story Fiona Joy will release her new Audiophile Album ‘Into The Mist’ as part of both the LA Audiophile Show (including The Sony-sponsored Hi-Resolution Magic Bus) next month and The Australian HiFi Show where she will perform live at The Intercontinental Sydney in late July.
Into the mist epitomizes the art of contemporary solo piano recording in today’s market.
This is Fiona’s second album to be released on Blue Coast Records where once again she teams up with Cookie Marenko, Producer and Engineer, who is well known for her contributions to the world of Audiophile recordings ever since her early years at Windham Hill under the watchful eye of Will Ackerman.
Fiona brings calm, sensual and delightful sensations to her unique compositions on “Into The Mist’ .Performing on an 1885 Steinway Grand Fiona’s talent is evident in her control of the instrument.
Her previous solo piano album Signature –Solo received critical acclaim by topping ZMR’s radio chart in 2016 and winning the Award the ‘Best Piano Album’ in the same year.
Into The Mist was recorded in the Highest Fidelity Possible, a new format DSD (Direct Stream Digital). Her choice to make the album in this format and utilize new recording technologies makes her both a pioneer and role model for other musicians to follow.
Producer Cookie Marenko said
“Not all artists are as easy as Fiona to work with. One of the reasons I enjoy her so much is because she let’s me do my job…. produce a great record filled with passion and emotion.”
Fiona Joy said
“It was truly an amazing experience working with Cookie again and her label Blue Coast Records (content Partners with Sony for Hi-Res) plans to officially launch Into the Mist with a customized event for our friends and supporters. We will have exclusive access to Sony-sponsored Hi-Resolution Magic Bus - built by Jon Whitledge, its known as the world’s best car stereo. I can’t wait….”
Into the Mist: Release details:
Official Worldwide Release Date June 2nd(Blue Coast/Sony SACD)
LA Audiophile Show – Sheraton Gateway Hotel LA Airport
3rd June 3-5pm (Show runs 2nd – 4th June).
The Magic Bus will be location at the front of the Hotel.
Australian HiFI Show
Featuring Live Piano Performances by Fiona Joy
Intercontinental Sydney July 28-30
Interview Recorded in the Magic Bus
Click the images below to Checkout two of the tunes/videos from the album
The feel of Into the Mist brings back to my mind…immediately…the wonderful years of Windham Hill, when I could buy an LP (or later, a CD) with complete confidence that I was going to love it. Fiona’s piano, recorded to Quad DSD, is simply there, and Cookie’s mastery in the audio arts is no less than Fiona’s on piano. Together they give us a quiet tour of creative force, without sonic compromise.
Dr David Robinson- Editor in Chief Positive Feedback Mag
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Rebecca Harrold has spent many years working as a pianist and singer. Since moving to the Boston area she worked extensively with The Company Theater, the Voice Studio of Robert Honeysucker, and recently with Burklyn Ballet of Vermont. A true collaborative musician her abilities and willingness to play and sing diverse styles has taken her to Europe, primarily Italy and Greece. Rebecca recently completed production on ‘The River of Life‘ with Windham Hills founder and producer, Will Ackerman. Available everywhere.
Watch the video for her song ‘We Belong Together‘ here: youtube.com/watch?v=XgP6CGxc2DU
Find the album here: