is an incredible follow-up to John Fluker’s award-winning debut, The Sound of Peace
(2006). The twelve original tracks are a combination of piano with orchestration and solo piano, and all convey a sense of serenity and calm without becoming ear-candy. Passionate, articulate and highly-skilled at the piano, Fluker once again demonstrates why he was awarded the 2006 NAR Lifestyle Music Award for Best New Artist. Currently Gladys Knight’s musical director, Fluker started studying the piano at the age of eight and graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music. He has toured internationally as a pianist and vocalist and has performed with a long list of musicians and singers in a broad range of genres. This varied background gives Fluker an amazing color palette to work with, and I have to say that each piece on this album is a gem unto itself. I predict he’ll be taking home quite a few awards with this album, too!
begins with “Evening Prelude,” a 45-second opening that sets the mood and perks up the ears for something very special. “Star Eyes
(Part One)” has a very haunting and passionate piano melody that flows effortlessly as the strings add washes of background color. Gorgeous! The piano on “Anytime” has a light, dancing feeling with strings and atmospheric sounds behind it. There are two versions of “After the Fall,” a beautiful ballad with a slightly bittersweet flavor. The first version has string accompaniment, and the version that closes the album is mostly solo piano. The only thing I don’t like about the last one is that it means the album is about over. “When Love Lost” is as poignant as its title suggests. There is just a hint of string accompaniment on this one, so the piano really has a chance to sing its song of heartbreak. Love it! “A Long Way Home” is a gentle, bittersweet solo piano ballad that overflows with longing. “Star Eyes
(Part 2)” brings the strings closer to the forefront than Part 1 does, but this is still very much a piano piece. Two versions of such a moving and beautiful piece are very welcome. “Night Prelude” is a solo piano lead-in to what I think is the crowning achievement of the album, the stunning “Once Upon a Night.” It picks up the theme of the Prelude and develops it to perfection over 7 1/2 minutes. I listen to a tremendous amount of music, but occasionally something will grab me every time, and “Once Upon a Night” is one of those pieces. It is just Fluker and his piano on this one, and the passions and emotional depth are breathtaking. (Hey John, are you doing sheet music for this one???)
If you aren’t yet familiar with John Fluker, do your ears and your soul a favor and discover this exceptional artist. Those who familiar with his previous albums are going to be thrilled with this one. Guaranteed to be one of my favorites of 2011! It’s available from www.johnfluker.com
, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!