Into the Flow
is the sixth (mostly) solo piano recording from Joseph Akins, a professor in the Department of Recording Industry at Middle Tennessee State University. Akins has been involved in music all of his life, beginning with playing in his father’s country music band as a child. He also toured with rock bands after high school and studied jazz in college. Akins’ previous albums have won many awards, but I think Into the Flow
could be his best one yet. Several of the pieces are dedicated to or inspired by specific people while others tell imaginary stories or describe favorite places. These different influences give the music quite a bit of variety while staying at a relaxed pace.
Into the Flow
begins with the title song, a piece that Akins says puts him in the “present moment” whenever he plays it. Relaxed and flowing with a sense of purpose, it reminds me of Akins’ easy-going personality and gentle nature. When preparing to compose a new piece, Akins asked his wife what kind of piece he should write and she requested “a pretty one.” “A Pretty One For Unita” is that very pretty piece. “The Waterfall Waltz” is a “day in the life of a waterfall” kind of piece. It begins in a major key and switches to a minor key in the second half to represent the change from day to night and how waterfalls keep flowing no matter what time it is. Very dreamy and relaxed, it’s a favorite. “Mystery Cafe” tells the story of a detective lurking around a cafe where magicians, fortune tellers and other mysterious folks hang out. A little bit 007 and a little bit film noir, it’s a very pleasant shift in mood. “Winter Is Here” was inspired by Game of Thrones, and you can almost feel a chill. Very dark and hauntingly beautiful, this is a another favorite. I also really like “A Love Story,” the story of two people who fall in love and grow old together despite the many twists and turns in life - very poignant and sweetly nostalgic. Akins told me there was a track on the album that was a little bit like “Water Tank Hill,” my favorite piece on his A Southern Sun
album from a few years ago. I had no trouble figuring out which one he meant - “Ghost of Mill Wee Hollow” - and I LOVE it! There is something very southern about the feeling of this piece - the easy-going tempo and mood, the occasional piano “twang” that Akins does so well, and a simple honesty. If you only listen to one track, make it this one! It’s one of my favorite pieces of the year! “On Saint Simons” is one of the two non-solo piano pieces. Synth strings add to the romance of this lovely piece inspired by a favorite place on the Georgia coast. “Cosmic Microwaves” is the other non-solo piano piece and one that Akins chose from of a series of improvisations he created during the recording sessions for the album. Reverb and other effects were added to give the piece a more “cosmic” feeling, but it’s mostly piano and brings this excellent album to a close.
Joseph Akins has been one of my favorite artists since I started reviewing his music in 2007. Into the Flow
will please old as well as new fans and should garner some additions to Akins’ collection of awards. The album is available from www.JosephAkins.com
, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!