A River's Journey
2002 / JourneyQuest Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
A River's Journey is a remarkable debut album by 16-year-old Jocelyn Woods. If I hadn't already corresponded with Jocelyn several times or read any of the biographical materials, I would have easily assumed from the emotional maturity of the music that she was well into her thirties or forties. As a piano teacher, I can attest to the fact that there are many very talented kids out there, but I have yet to encounter a teenager with this kind of depth in his or her compositions. Born physically challenged, Woods has also been home-schooled, allowing her the freedom to create and explore on the piano as the spirit moves. She started playing the piano at four, and has been classically trained since then. Jocelyn Woods' original compositions are stunning. Her playing style is fluid and heartfelt, and her pieces are emotionally deep and exceptionally personal. They tend to be on the somber side, but never fall into dark melodrama. They are more pensive and introspective than gloomy or painful, and soothe with their shared thoughts and feelings. Her openness is refreshing, and her wisdom for one so young is startling. For the most part, if it must be classified, I'd call her music more contemporary classical than new age. It is melodic and accessible, but goes `way beyond the norm of pretty music to unwind with.
I had been listening to this CD in the car, and really enjoyed it, but it didn't fully impact me until I gave it my full concentration and REALLY listened. Woods included five classical pieces by Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Bach in addition to her seven originals, and her playing and interpretation of those classics is really nice, but her soul reveals itself in her own work.
I can't honestly say I have a favorite of Woods' compositions - they are all so personal, beautiful, and inspiring. "A Dream Ago" is haunting in its simplicity and directness. "Perhaps We Are" also has a haunting quality, but stays positive and hopeful as it explores a whole realm of emotions. The title song is also compelling, and is perhaps the darkest of the twelve pieces. It speaks of the courage to follow one's own river's course and of the growing soul. Woods was hesitant at first to share this piece because of its intensely personal nature, but what a gift she has given to those who will take the time to listen. I feel very strongly that Jocelyn Woods is embarking on a very important journey to bring her music to a world that desperately needs honesty, hope, and courage. A River's Journey is an incredible album, and I recommend it very highly.
July 6, 2002