Reviews 7-1-2018

Music Reviews 



Story of Ghosts
by Fiona Joy

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With the success of the new age super group FLOW this pastyear it would be easy to think of Fiona, Larry, Jeff and Will simply as a group of artists who play together as a unit and not keep in mind that they are all successful composers and musicians at an individual level as well. If you were to do that you would be cutting yourself off from the brilliant music that each of these musicians releases as solo performers outside of the context of FLOW the group. Point in case the release of Fiona Joyís third solo piano album called Story of Ghosts that came out in March of this year.

Story of Ghosts is an album filled with emotions as Fiona composes music that allows her to capture the feelings and  the fleeting moments that can very often slip by unnoticed if we donít stop every once in a while to examine where we have been and where we are going. Much as one writes in a journal to look closer at the events shaping oneís life composers are very apt to do the same thing but not with words in a journal but rather with notes on a page that expresses things that very often canít be captured using mere words.

On the Story of Ghosts Fiona shares with us those feelings through her music and even though we donít know the context of those expressions of emotions contained within her compositions it is entirely irrelevant to us as listeners because her music touches places within us that goes beyond words and communicates those feelings directly to listeners and connects at a level where words are not needed. The music on Story of Ghosts tends to be almost classical in nature but it allows us to glimpse the discipline that Fiona is capable of as she deftly carries us through the varied soundscapes that she has chosen to share with us on this project in a skillful and expert way.

The music contained in these 10 compositions is of an introspective nature and is both poignant and comforting, with many shades in between that offer listeners a chance to reflect on their own paths in life and look at the highs and lows of where their journey has brought them so far. It is only fitting that this album was recorded with Fiona playing her compositions on an 1885 Steinway piano as the music represents hers and her listenerís travels through life both recent and sometimes not so recent to sort through the puzzle pieces of life via the medium of music. The 1885 Steinway is a link to the past as are Fionaís compositions on this album. Whether that past is just the last year or whether it is a lifetime of memories the music doesnít discriminate. It facilitates the journey no matter the distance.

Story of Ghosts is music filled with many subtleties and is wrapped in melancholic moods that Fiona weaves and intertwines in an impressive display of her compositional abilities as a solo pianist. She has invited you in to this intimate moment of sharing and through the songs on this album she has metaphorically taken you by the hand and led you on an inward journey that through her masterful use of the keyboards speaks to you at a much deeper and more personal level than words would ever allow.

Fionaís playing is impeccable and the results which are on display in Story of Ghosts are impressive. The thing about introspection is that what you will find by looking deep inside is not always sunshine and kitties but will also contain the shadows we encounter during the day and the deep darkness that envelopes us at midnight. Fiona captured more of the shadows and the darkness with this release but all is not encased in the dark because there are tinges of light in songs like Blue Dream, The White Light or Contemplating that show that for every sunset there will be a sunrise that will eventually bring the light back. Mind you these tinges of light are not all that bright but they are enough.

For those audio buffs out there who remember the high definition formats that the record companies were experimenting with a couple of decades ago called DVD audio (DVD-A) and SACD discs will be happy to know that not all high definition audio has faded away with the advent of digital. Fionaís Story of Ghosts CD version is a hybrid SACD (Super Audio CD) disc. The hybrid part of the description means that it will still play in a standard CD player as well as in an SACD player. The disc offers the solo piano work of Fiona Joy in a format that brings the sound into sharp focus and allows the listener to hear exactly what Fiona put into the album in the studio. In this case purchasing the physical CD might not be a bad idea so that you can hear the nuances of Fionaís keyboard work that might escape you if you were simply listening to digital files. All in all Story of Ghosts has some wonderfully heartfelt playing offered up by Fiona to her listeners with those deeply passionate feelings that were poured into the music in every note as sharp and clear as you are likely to hear them. This is an exceptional album and one that Iím sure that readers of Ambient Visions will find worthy to be added to their own collections.   

Reviewed by Michael Foster for Ambient Visions