Pianist/composer Jennifer Haines’ new release, Thoughts & Dreams
, has the distinction of being the first album I’ve reviewed from my new Oregon Coast home. Haines’ gentle musical optimism is the perfect accompaniment to watching the tiny birds I can’t yet identify darting from tree to tree in the summer coastal wind, the sky a bright blue backdrop with wisps of fog floating by. Haines’ previous release, Christmas Magic
, is a delightful collection of her arrangements of favorite Christmas songs, but Thoughts & Dreams
, is all original material, right down to the charming watercolor cover artwork. The music of Thoughts & Dreams
is warm and inviting without being saccharine or superficial, and while a consistent mood is sustained throughout the album, the thirteen pieces are distinctive and individual. In the liner notes, Haines briefly explains the inspiration for the music, allowing us a glimpse of her private and personal world.
The opening track, “The Storm Begins,” reminds me a bit of Robin Spielberg, one of my very favorite composers. The contrasting of the high treble and deep bass notes is always effective, perhaps describing the bright first raindrops and dark, forbidding clouds. This is not a ferocious storm, but it has energy, and the piece is wonderfully refreshing. The title track is light and playful, referring to the artist’s ability to escape to her imagination in otherwise boring situations. “Pacific” recalls a favorite childhood memory of a day at the ocean with her family and friend, and conveys the ceaseless rhythmic flow of the waves and their constantly-changing energy - beautiful! “Miles Apart” is a wistful musical love letter to parents who live far away, full of longing and deep emotion. “Desert Beautiful” depicts the richness of the desert, contrasting the delicate cactus flowers with the solid, awesome rock formations. “Wildflower” is a simple, freeform little piece that describes the varied colors and forms of wildflowers, as well as their gentle innocence as they sway in the breeze. “Flurries” is my favorite track. Energetic and dancing like the first snowflakes of winter, the piece has a free-flowing sense of excitement that is infectious and joyous. “Morning” promises a fresh start with the beginning of each new day. “Twilight” is an enchanting love song, telling the story of a romantic marriage proposal on the very spot where the happy couple met.
Thoughts & Dreams
is a delight from start to finish, and should boost Jennifer Haines into the forefront of contemporary pianist/composers. While not overly complex structurally or harmonically, the music comes from the heart and brings a gentle sense of peace and well-being. It is available from usfourmusic.com
, amazon.com, and cdbaby.com. Highly recommended!