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Album Review: Dream World
Joseph Akins
Cover image of the album Dream World by Joseph Akins
Dream World
Joseph Akins
2021 / HeartSong Music
43 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Dream World is the ninth solo piano album from Joseph Akins, one of my favorite pianist/composers since his 2007 solo piano debut, Masterpeace. Recorded at home during the height of the pandemic, the eleven tracks represent many of the different scenarios and stories that occur in our dreams. I have loved all of Joseph's albums, singles and sheet music, but there is something extra special about this album that really resonates with me. I can't wait for the forthcoming sheet music and songbook! A Professor of Recording Industry at Middle Tennessee State University, Joseph Akins composed, performed and recorded all eleven tracks. The album was mixed and mastered by Joe Bongiorno at Piano Haven in Sedona, Arizona, and Matt Strieby of Newleaf Design created the beautiful and slightly whimsical cover artwork.

I know I keep saying this, but I continue to be overwhelmed with the stellar quality of so much of the music that has been composed and recorded during the COVID pandemic. With more time for artists to create and the emotional quality of so much of what we've all experienced, it has been a very rich time for the arts. I think Dream World is Joseph's best album to date.

Dream World begins with the title track, one of my favorites. Mysterious and more than a little bit intriguing, the free-flowing melody contrasts very effectively with the steadier rhythm. Some of the piece is played in the deep bass of the piano, giving it a dark feeling similar to being in a deep sleep. I really love this one! "Peacefulness" is slow, relaxed and very dreamy with a little bit of that "southern piano" style Joseph is so good at. The rolling broken chords on the left hand in "Whispers in the Woods" keep this piece moving while the right hand melody tells a mysterious story that is melancholy and expressive. I love this one, too! "Exhilaration" is light, calm and happy. "Starlight" is a perfect musical description of both twinkling stars on a dark, cloudless night and the awe that fills the soul when you can experience being out on a night like that. There are two versions of " A Moonlit Dance" on the album, and both are warm, gentle and romantic waltzes. "Who Am I?" expresses the feeling of being in search of something but not really knowing where to look. Dreams often feel like that! "The Bird Song" has a quiet, lyrical flow and obviously has nothing to do with crows or jays! Soothing and relaxing, it's another favorite. Like its title, the poignant "Melancholy" asks "why?" and looks inward for answers. "Night Storm" begins as a quiet rain and gradually builds intensity without reaching a dangerous, destructive level. This is the kind of storm that just makes you cozy down into the covers a little deeper. A little wind, a few thunder claps and some rain. I love this one, too!

Dream World CDs are available from JosephAkins.com, Amazon and Bandcamp. Digital versions are available from Amazon, Bandcamp, and iTunes as well as streaming sites. Don't miss this one!

August 4, 2021
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