Friday, July 29, 2016

Album Review: Wishful Thinking by Samer Fanek

Wishful Thinking is the debut album from pianist, composer and arranger Samer Fanek. Drawing upon musical styles ranging from classical to rock, Samer’s influences include composers such as Yanni and Nobuo Uematsu (who scored the Final Fantasy series), as well as hard rock bands like Dream Theater and Muse. Comprised of thirteen tracks spanning forty-seven minutes, Wishful Thinking conveys a central theme of having romantic hopes and dreams, which ultimately give way to mournful remembrances until eventually moving on.

The title piece opens with gentle piano and light synthesizer that are soon followed by a fuller orchestral arrangement. Romantic and emotionally tender, additional musical elements soon gather up into the fold. The next piece, “Universe”, bears subtle rock nuances with a hint of exoticism, as piano and strings are set to a steady drumbeat, lending powerfully bold expressions to the composition. Soft piano and chimes open up “Freefall”, a distinctively neoclassical piece that soon morphs into a dramatic and sweeping composition full of colorful strings and symphonic drums. “Lost Waltz” is an especially notable composition which conveys an element of intrigue, as fluttering piano and synthesized voices are set to a waltzing pace. One can easily imagine a lone couple dancing to this reminiscently romantic tune, along with the rising and falling nuances of its neoclassical orchestration. The melancholic “Left Behind” is another particular highlight full of multi-layered strings, as a lead piano melody seems to convey a pining for love that has been lost. The two-minute “Remember Me” is a wistfully lovely interlude-like piece, with its elegant strings and slower-paced stanza lending a moment of pause. Closing out the album is the aptly-named “Finding Closure”, another personal favorite that hints of finally letting go. Beautifully bittersweet, twirling piano and airy synths soon give way to cinematically swelling strings, before winding down with tip-toeing piano notes that signal the curtain has closed.

Wishful Thinking leaves no doubt that Samer is immensely talented at crafting highly engaging compositional arrangements. He frequently alternates dramatic exertions with intermediate pauses of gentleness, employing this formula throughout the album which quickly becomes its signature motif. His Yanni influences are perhaps most apparent, with much of this album bearing similarities to the aforementioned artist’s Reflections of Passion and Tribute albums. Likewise, Samer’s music could make for a grand live performance, being best-suited for active listening with its multi-melodic stanzas constantly moving and filling up every space with sound. While listening, it was easy to envision a ballroom dance at some sophisticated venue complete with crystal chandelier, bubbling champagne, tuxedos and sparkling gowns. A rising star with lots of potential, Wishful Thinking will greatly appeal to many fans of Yanni and Nobuo Uematsu, as well as to those who enjoy highly expressive neoclassical and piano instrumental music. ~Candice Michelle

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

This review was originally published on Journeyscapes on 07/29/16.