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Album Review: Alleluia
Greg Maroney and Brenda J Johnson
Cover image of the album Alleluia by Greg Maroney and Brenda J Johnson
Greg Maroney and Brenda J Johnson
2021 / Greg Maroney
33 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Greg Maroney has been one of my favorite artists since I started reviewing his music twenty years ago. New music from Greg has always been a special treat, but Alleluia is something really special. The piano is front and center in all of the seven tracks, but Greg teamed up with local cellist, Brenda J Johnson, who added her own soulful touch to most of the music. Greg also orchestrated and layered in choir voices to several of the pieces, adding a new dimension to his artistry. I love piano and cello together as a duo, and this album is a very strong reminder of why. On this project, the two artists strove to create a joyful sound that is both uplifting and meditative and succeeded beautifully!

Brenda J Johnson is an award-winning cellist, composer/arranger, studio musician and educator living in Mount Wolf, PA. She has recorded on numerous studio projects and plays a wide range of musical styles from classical to pop to Celtic/folk. She has been an orchestra teacher for twenty-seven years.

You will likely notice that I'm not naming any favorites on this album, and that's simply because they are all favorites. That doesn't happen very often, but it is certainly true in this case! Alleluia begins with the title track, a piece Greg told me is his favorite of all of the music has created over the years. The piece is an expression of joy and thankfulness for the beauty of life and includes piano, choral voices, cello and bass. Peaceful and serene, it's a gorgeous and stirring start. A duet for piano and cello, "Cloud's Rest" moves at the relaxed pace of a fluffy white cloud moving gently across the sky. It's very easy to get lost in this piece as it massages away the stresses of the day. "Lover's Lament Orchestrated" was originally released as a solo piano single in 2020, but for this album, Greg re-recorded it with piano, cello, brass and wordless vocals. This one really tugs at the heartstrings with its beauty and deeply emotional expression. The energetic "A Smooth Stone" is the only piano solo on the album and reflects the intensity of water flowing quickly over a rocky steam bed. "Music of the Morning Orchestrated" originally appeared Greg's album The Golden Hour, released earlier this year. Cello and voices add a new dimension to this lovely piece. "Illumination" is a meditation originally composed on the piano while imagining a morning sunrise. Smooth bass and flute provide a foundation for the more improvisational piano. "Dark Passages" is mournful, but in a soothing, slightly mysterious way. Piano, cello and choir vocals go right to the heart and bring this excellent album to a close.

Alleluia is available to download and/or stream from gregmaroney.com, Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and Spotify, among others. Both thumbs up for this one!
October 14, 2021