Imaginary road excellence fiona joy lawrence blatt jeff oster will ackerman Flow – FLOW: It’s only about 150 miles from where Will Ackerman setup his Imaginary Road studios many years ago to where my grandfather’s farm used to be (Island Pond, VT), so I’m well familiar with how peaceful and natural the region can be. Will has used that ambience to assist in the creation of many beautiful musical experiences, but having listened to (and reviewed) each of these players (Fiona Joy on piano, Lawrence Blatt doing acoustic/electric guitar and ukulele, Jeff Oster on flugelhorn and Will Ackerman on guitar) many times, I believe this new release (it’s officially slated for October 6, 2017) is the finest ever to emerge from there. The guitar works from both Lawrence and Will strongly compliment each other throughout the album, in ways even they hadn’t imagined.
Pieces like the beautiful “And the Sky Was” easily capture your ears, and the dictionary definition of the group/album title will become brilliantly clear… “a steady, continuous stream”… listen to the guitar during the opening lines and then Jeff’s horn weave steadily/surely into all the rest of the instruments as they join in… you don’t get this kind of synergy and flow unless the players are all willing to let each of the instruments guide their next notes. Even Will said that his “pieces were being altered and transformed into something very different from what I would have done” – I know from my personal musical experiences that those moments are rare… but, on this grand album, you’ve got musicians who are able to play expertly, yet “let the music be different”!
During the opener, “Arrival“, Fiona’s piano introduction leads “oh-so-calmly” into an emergence of a whole that is better than the parts… if you’re not a player, you may not realize how difficult that can be to achieve… the guest artists (Marc Shulman – Guitar; Tony Levin – Bass; Jeff Haynes – Percussion; Sam Bevan – Bass; Eugene Friesen – Cello; Tom Eaton – Guitar, Bass) make the song shine, as well.. I was especially impressed (as in, “carried away”) when the marvelous percussion kicked in at the 2:48 mark… subtle, yet full of power. An additional treat is that you get to hear Fiona doing vocals on tunes like “Rest Now My Friend“… listen closely, it’s both haunting and beautiful.
Another intriguing aspect of the album is that there is (also) a video creation (which I had the good fortune to critique) for at least one of the tunes… you can view their “Free Ascent” video by clicking the image below As always, the best way to “see” a presentation is using video… (NOTE: When you click on the video link below, you will be taken to the FLOW site… click BACK to return to this review).
As you may have noticed, this review is a bit longer than normal… that is because this album very much inspires my thoughts; in fact, I have listened to it nearly 20 times since I first received it… I believe the music that Fiona, Lawrence, Jeff and Will have created here is more than just “new” or “new age” music… it is the harbinger of a style the universe has been awaiting for eons… graceful collaboration that can lead to unity for every age.
There is no doubt in my mind that FLOW will be considered for (and win) many awards… that’s especially true for my personal favorite of the eleven songs offered up, “Whisper Me This“… I loved the pacing and rhythm… but more importantly, I loved the sense of hope conveyed by the players on this fantastic piece of music. FLOW gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as a (perfect) “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 5.00… meaning that they also get my “PICK” for “most forward-looking creation”