2023 / Heart Dance Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
Everyday Miracles is a wonderful solo piano album by Oregon pianist/composer Julie Hanney. A collection of fourteen original pieces, the music expresses "the joy, wonder and beauty of the natural world that we can miss if we don't stop and notice all of the Everyday Miracles" (quoted from Julie's website). Continuing the quote: "Everyday Miracles was born out of taking time to appreciate all of the amazing, miraculous things that exist in our lives every single day. If we give in to fear or distraction, we can miss the abundance that exists in our natural and spiritual world. From the wonder of birds taking flight to the mathematical patterns and spirals in nature to the miracle of the present moment, these songs are each a sonic expression of the miraculous, yet universal gifts given to us all." With all of the fear, anger and stress that flies all around us these days, it's a wonderful musical reminder to take the time to fully appreciate the beauty that surrounds us whether we're paying attention to it or not. Even the album cover is exceptionally beautiful!
Introduced to the piano at the age of five, Julie Hanney started writing her own music a few years later. She graduated from the University of Oregon (known for its exceptional music department) with a degree in music with special emphasis on piano and composition. She continued to study composition at the graduate level and is a published composer of works for piano, choir and various instrumental ensembles. Julie released her debut album, Painting in Sound, in 2019. Everyday Miracles is her fourth full-length album; she has also released a number of singles and EPs. Twelve of the fourteen pieces on Everyday Miracles were released on EPs in 2022.
Everyday Miracles begins with "Taking Flight," a piece that feels as effortless as a bird gliding on a breeze or just cruising overhead - a wonderful start that lets the listener know right away that this album is something special. "Reflections" makes me think of the graceful movement of water as light dances on its surface. It could also be about inner reflections moving freely in one's mind. "Coming Home" is livelier and expresses the joyful anticipation of returning to the place where we most belong. Later in the piece, it slows a bit with feelings of contentment and inner peace. Both the title and the music for "Here Now" suggests to me the idea of being fully present rather than dwelling in the past or anticipating the future while fully appreciating the moment. For me, the expressive rubato tempo emphasizes how everything around us has its own pace. "A Prayer For Peace" is a gorgeous and very heartfelt plea - definitely a favorite! "Holy Ground" is also a favorite. Played mostly in the lower half of the piano, the piece is slow and solemn as well as contemplative - very soulful. "Heart Rhapsody" is bliss set to music. Warmth and appreciation seem to flow from each note. I love this one! The haunting and very expressive "Longing" seems to pour from the heart directly to the fingers on the piano keys. I really like this one, too! The album comes to a close with "Birdsong," a piece that sweetly mimics the sounds of birds by using the piano and a heaping mix of love and appreciation. Great album!
Everyday Miracles is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes, and several streaming sites including Spotify. Very highly recommended!
January 30, 2023