Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Spotlight: Into the Flow by Joseph Akins

Not long ago I had the pleasure of seeing pianist-composer Joseph Akins in concert with fellow pianist-composer Michele Mclaughlin on their joint tour, where each performed a set and shared delightful and personal stories. Raised in a musical family in Chickamauga, GA, Joseph has been playing the piano since he was a child, having explored a variety of musical styles along the way. In addition to his career as an accomplished recording artist, Joseph is also a college professor and teaches music instruction. Having personally found him down-to-earth and expressing a great sense of humor, I can only imagine how beloved he is by his students!

Comprised of twelve original solo piano compositions spanning roughly 50 minutes in length, Joseph’s latest album, Into the Flow, is a delightful collection of reflective, melodic comfort. Some of the album’s highlights include the opening title piece, “Into the Flow”, which pleasantly reminds me a bit of early works by David Lanz. Evocative of sailing along a peaceful river, the composition gently rolls along in a forward motion with smoothly rounded edges. I’m also especially fond of the aptly waltzing, “The Waterfall Waltz”, which features chords that bear some reminiscence to the music of jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi – a comparison likewise noted on the similarly jazz-tinged “On Saint Simons”.

As it often goes, songs inspired by the winter season tend to be among my favorite on a given album (particularly when it comes to piano recordings), as such is the case with the especially lovely piece, “Winter is Here”. A more classical-infused composition, it continuously cascades in a gently fluctuating and winding manner throughout while seemingly recalling that of embarking on a lone journey across a snowy landscape. Nevertheless, the final piece may be the one that lingers on in my mind the longest. Conveying a sense of cosmic wonder with the title, “Cosmic Microwaves”, this beautifully mysterious and reflective passage makes use of heavy reverb and digital delay on the piano – effectively bringing this wonderful listening experience to a memorably perfect close.

Emotionally touching but not overly sentimental, Into the Flow is easily one of my favorite piano recordings released this year. Although warmly positive in nature, a comforting sense of nostalgia is imbued in these compositions, often evoking personal memories of life’s most cherished moments! ~Candice Michelle

For more information please visit the artist's website. This album can also be purchased at Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby and Google Play.