Fiona Joy Hawkins has been one of my favorite artists since I first heard her Angel Above My Piano
in 2006. It was her 2008 Will Ackerman-produced Blue Dream
that brought Hawkins the most international exposure by winning several major awards and reaching a broader audience. It was the highest-ranking album ever in the history of the New Age Reporter International Radio Charts, debuting at #1 and winning the Zone Music Reporter Album of the Year, Best Piano Album, and Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. It is no surprise then, that nine of the fifteen tracks on Live At The Q are live versions of pieces from that album. Fiona performs on a Stuart and Sons piano, a relatively new brand of piano from Australia that is hand made and has been called the best piano in the world. Fiona also provides backing vocals. Her Blue Dream Ensemble consists of Rebecca Daniel on violin, ukelele, shaker, and vocals; John Napier on cello; Dave Ellis on bass; and Andy Busuttil on clarinet, vocals and spoken word, saxillo, Irish whistles, frame drum, darabuka, and jembe. Together, they become a seamless voice expressing a passion for Hawkins’ soulful music.
Live At The Q begins with a solo piano version of “View From My Studio” from Hawkins’ 2005 debut, Portrait of a Waterfall
. This piece had a couple of arrangements on her 2006 Ice: Piano Slightly Chilled
and is still one of my favorites. The next eight tracks are from Blue Dream
, played as a suite with transitional interludes connecting the songs without breaks (or applause from the audience). The listening experience is magical and evocative, and Fiona has never sounded better! “Through Cloud” also comes from Hawkins’ first album. Graceful and moody, the cello and violin, make this lovely piece even more compelling. “Love In Winter” from Angel is another one of my favorites - I love the versions on Ice titled “Love in the Refrigerator” (one of my favorite song titles ever!) and “Crystallized Love.” “600 Years” is a new piece for this recording, and is performed here as a piano solo. Dreamy and reflective it’s an indication of great things to come! “Flight of the Albatross” is probably Fiona’s best-known piece (one of my favorite pieces by anyone!), and her piano/ensemble arrangement is perfect. “The Void,” also from Blue Dream
, was composed by the incomparable Philip Aaberg. Dark, intense, and absolutely gorgeous, it’s a bittersweet close to a stellar album.
Whether Fiona Joy Hawkins is new to you or a longtime favorite, Live At The Q is a must-have. It is available from fionajoyhawkins.com
, Amazon, and iTunes. Very highly recommended!