Sanctuary For the Soul
2016 / Shore Light Recrds
Review by Kathy Parsons
Sanctuary For the Soul is the debut album by the Janice Lacy Project, and what a delight it is! Fronted by pianist/composer Janice Lacy, the other Project members are Rob Mullins (piano and keyboards), Jeness (cello), Larry Antonino (bass), and Tony Braunagel (drums and percussion) - all artists in their own right. All fourteen tracks on the album were composed by Lacy, motivated by this goal: “I want my music to serve as a sanctuary, a refuge, a place of safety, peace, healing and joy, where listeners can go when they need to escape from the pressures and stress of the world around them.” A classically-trained pianist from the age of three, Lacy started composing music when she was 15. Growing up, she was influenced by popular and jazz music as well as the folk music of her native Ohio in addition to the classical music she was learning to play. While composing the music for this album, Lacy says that she threw off the restrictions of classical music and embraced the freedom and improvisation of new age and jazz, which gave her the freedom to express whatever she was feeling when she sat down at the piano. I think Lacy succeeded very well with her goals for this album and I love that such a variety of influences are apparent in her music. Some of the tracks are solo piano and some are duets and ensemble works. A musical maturity runs through all of the pieces, but so does a positive spirit and a soaring sense of freedom.
Sanctuary For the Soul opens with the title track, a duet for piano and cello that expresses the safety and sanctuary Lacy finds in music. One of the more classical pieces on the album, it’s a beautiful, peaceful beginning! “Take Care of My Heart” is mostly a piano solo that includes cello in a few places, and was composed with the realization that the heart is fragile and easily broken. “Everything’s Alright” is lighter and more upbeat, with a melody strong enough to support lyrics - a bit of musical sunshine! “Refuge” is a graceful and lyrical duet for piano and cello that allows both musicians to really shine. “Sunrise Dance,” a soothing celebration of mornings when we wake up feeling great, could become a smooth jazz classic! “Through the Shadows” is a poignant and heartfelt piano solo about finding your way through the difficult times in life - a favorite. I also really like “December Goodbye,” a piece Lacy composed in memory of her father. It begins as a piano solo with light percussion, very gradually building and adding instrumentation to a peak and then winding back down. With its hypnotic rhythm and gently swaying melody, “Full Moon” expresses the feeling of a romantic slow dance - also a favorite. Saving by far my favorite piece on the album for last, “Tell You That I Love You” gets me each time I hear it! Its slightly funky beat and jazzy attitude get my toes to tapping and my head to bobbing every time. Love the piece and hate to have the album end, so let’s hit “replay” and do it again!
Sanctuary For the Soul is an incredible debut and I look forward to seeing what else Janice Lacy has up her musical sleeves! The album is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. 30-second samples of all of the songs are available at Lacy’s website. Recommended!
February 7, 2017