Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Album Review: Signature Synchronicity by Fiona Joy

Signature Synchronicity is the highly anticipated album by Fiona Joy, an award-winning pianist, composer and vocalist from Australia. Recorded at Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont, the album was produced by Will Ackerman, Tom Eaton (who also mixed the recording) and James Englund. As the sequel to her Signature Solo album, Signature Synchronicity features piano ensemble arrangements of its predecessor’s solo compositions. Fiona Joy’s own vocals grace much of the album, along with contributions by a fantastic lineup of musicians who lend various instruments throughout - including cello, violin, flugelhorn, keyboard, bass, percussion, electric and acoustic guitar - as well as additional layered vocals.

“Ceremony” opens the album with a cascading piano melody, washes of wordless vocals, Jeff Haynes playing a tapping percussive rhythm, and Tom Eaton on keyboards, electric and bass guitar. It’s an uplifting introduction that conveys a feeling of flight. Following is the aptly-named “Grace”, an elegant piano piece that gently unfolds like a beautiful flower blooming. Fiona Joy provides lyrical vocals in a delicate breathy timbre, as opposed to an emotive singing style, as she is joined by Eugene Friesen on cello, Jeff Oster on flugelhorn and Tony Levin on bass. An alternate ‘chill version’ of this song is included on the album, which additionally features electric guitar and bass, as well as Fiona Joy’s son, Nick Hawkins, on beat-box. One of my favorites is “Invisible Train”, a more dynamic piece that showcases a passionate, flowing piano melody caressed by wispy, wordless vocals and driving percussion. The equally winsome, “Signature”, is a contemplative interlude-like piece, beginning with Paul Jarman on tárogató - a woodwind instrument common to both Romanian and Hungarian folk music. Together with Fiona Joy’s spacious piano melody and Will Ackerman’s glistening acoustic guitar, these three instruments beautifully weave around one another. I’m also particularly fond of “From the Mist”, another gentle tune that opens with drifting piano notes in a higher register. Accompanied by cello, as well as Rebecca Daniel on violin and Paul Jarman playing an Irish whistle, it feels like taking a stroll through the countryside. Perhaps most cherished is the closing piece, “Little Star”. Complimented by subtle touches of electric guitar and bass, I find the peaceful piano melody to be especially moving yet lulling.

Signature Synchronicity exudes pure elegance and a classically romantic flair, with some of the compositions having a cinematic quality reminiscent of a period film. Even at its most dramatic and powerful, the piano melodies retain an exquisite gracefulness. With past works including piano solo, piano instrumental and piano chill albums, Signature Synchronicity is a majestic display of Fiona Joy’s illustrious repertoire. ~Candice Michelle

For more information please visit the artist's website. This album is also available on Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.

This review was originally published on Journeyscapes Radio on 03/30/16.