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Album Review: Following My Heart
Jane Ellen
Cover image of the album Following My Heart by Jane Ellen
Following My Heart
Jane Ellen
2009 / JEMS
50 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Jane Ellen’s Following My Heart is the third in a trilogy of piano CDs that began in 2004. Jane Ellen composed the music in the summer of 2009 after an especially difficult year. In the liner notes, she explains: “In my journey from darkness to light, I’ve often wondered if i would ever be able to find myself — or the music — again. This CD is the result of that journey, and I hope that in some small way it may bring peace, joy, and healing to those who seek it.” As one would expect from this statement, there is a mix of emotions expressed, but most of the music is very tranquil, soothing and often hymn-like. Some of the tracks are solo piano and others feature guest artists on percussion, bass and accordion. The closing track is a vocal piece featuring the artist herself. In addition to being an award-winning composer and performer, Jane Ellen is a music educator, lecturer, and poet.

Following My Heart begins with the buoyant “Raindance,” which features Ken Battat on percussion and Sid Fendley on bass as well as Jane Ellen on piano. Upbeat and lively, it’s a warm welcome to the music. “Keeper of My Heart” and “Vision of the Past” are solo piano and much more reflective. Both are also very lyrical and melodic. “Garden of Memory” begins with a high bell-like sound on a keyboard and then segues into solo piano. I really like the flow of this piece. The addition of a flute about half-way into the piece really enhances the poignance of the melody. Lovely! “Deep Peace” is very tender and reassuring. “Circle in Time” is quite a change, but a fun one. Featuring Dan Wright on accordion, it has a very European flavor that is sometimes joyful and sometimes bittersweet. I like this one a lot, too. “Hold Fast to Dreams” is a beautiful piano solo. The melody is simple and honest, coming from the heart. “Haven of Stone” has an interesting Celtic/folk influence in the melody while the left hand plays flowing broken chords. “Late At Night” is my favorite piece on the album. Solo piano, it has the intimacy of a soliloquy in the darkness and quiet of night. Gently rolling chords on the left add to the peacefulness of the mood while the right hand tells its story. The words of the closing vocal track, also the title track, tell the story of Jane Ellen’s journey through the darkness and into the light.

Following My Heart gives the listener an lovely hour (almost!) of melodic piano music that comforts and gives hope. It can be found at www.janeellen.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Check it out!
September 19, 2010