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Album Review: Promise
Cover image of the album Promise by FLOW
2019 / LMB Music
45 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Promise is the second album from FLOW, the ensemble of established indie artists Fiona Joy Hawkins (piano, vocals), Lawrence Blatt (guitars, bass, ukulele), Jeff Oster (flugelhorn, trumpet) and Will Ackerman (guitar). Tom Eaton (bass, electric guitar, keyboards, accordion and percussion) and Jeff Haynes (percussion) appear as guest artists. Eaton also recorded, mixed and mastered the album at Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont. The ten tracks were co-composed by all four principal artists and reflect on a variety of life experiences. Other than Fiona’s wordless vocals, the album is all instrumental. I find it fascinating that no one is the “star” on any of the tracks and that it’s easy to tune in and out of each part without losing the “flow” of the music. FLOW released their self-titled debut album in 2017 and went on to win Album of the Year honors from both the IMA Awards at Lincoln Center and Zone Music Reporter Awards in New Orleans. Personally, I like Promise even more than the previous album and think that the two-year wait for a sequel was well worth it!

Promise begins with the beautifully soothing and graceful title track - a lovely way to start! “Something On Tuesday” is a dreamy two-part piece with a warm, sunny attitude. There isn’t a distinct break between the two main themes, but the volume dips a bit right before the second theme comes in. Both themes are gentle, relaxed and hypnotic. “Adrift At Sea” expresses the quietly undulating rhythms of the ocean and features the sounds of the surf and gulls. Very peaceful and dream-like, it’s a favorite. “All These Years” is more ambient, expressing feelings of nostalgia, reflection and tranquility. The first part of “Last Light” paints images of the quiet that descends as the last light of day fades. The second part of the piece picks up the tempo and spirit to create a more lively party feeling - night life! “Fresh Air” begins with a quietly ambient prelude. The main theme of the piece has a stronger rhythm and is somewhat more melodic, but maintains the peaceful and soothing vibe. The darkly mysterious “Nightfall” is my second- favorite track on the album. Slow and open, the haunting atmosphere was created in part by Oster’s muted horn. “Blue Umbrella” has a wistful, rainy-day feeling (kind of like the one we’re having here today!). The brightly rhythmic “Chasing Secrets” has an easy smooth jazz flow that I really like. My favorite piece on the album is “Memoire Du Dome,” the closing track. Eaton’s accordion adds a distinctly French flavor while Oster’s horn and Fiona’s piano do a sensuous slow dance. I really like the mysteriously romantic tone of this one!

FLOW has created musical magic with their second release, and I’m sure Promise will be one of my favorite albums of 2019! It is available from Amazon, Apple Music and many streaming sites. Check it out!
October 16, 2019
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