Where The Ocean Meets The Sky
2021 / Heart Dance Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
Where The Ocean Meets The Sky is the third solo piano album from Oregon pianist/composer Julie Hanney. Introduced to the piano at the age of five, Julie started writing her own music a few years later. She graduated from the University of Oregon 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. She released her Christmas album, A Peace-Filled Christmas, the same year and it was nominated for "Holiday Album of the Year" by SoloPiano.com. The fourteen original piano solos on Where The Ocean Meets The Sky are intended to impart a sense of rest, wonder, peace and healing, and I think this music does all of that very well. I even love the album cover with its fluffy white clouds reflected on the lid of a grand piano! The music itself has the natural grace of someone who has played the piano since early childhood. There are no dazzling pianistic fireworks, but Julie's ability to communicate via the piano is warm, magical and very sincere.
Where The Ocean Meets The Sky begins with "Peace Hymn," a piece that conveys a reverent sense of calm and tranquility - a four-minute mind massage! "Flow" suggests the relaxed groove of a slow jazz improvisation. "The Echo of a Seashell" seems to tell the life story of a sea creature from the time it was "born" and lived in the watery depths of the ocean until it washed up on the shore waiting to become a found treasure for someone walking along the beach. I can really feel the gentle movement of the water as well as a sense of wonder. "Soul Dance" is one of my favorite tracks on the album, and there is a wonderful video that includes several dancers as well as Julie playing the piano. Graceful and very expressive, it's an outstanding piece! I've always felt like I must have salt water in my veins and love living a short distance from the ocean. "Ocean Song" beautifully captures the feeling of the ocean at its calmest, reflecting the colors of the sky and moving at a very relaxed pace - also a favorite! A simple waltz, "Reverie" feels like a daydream on a spring afternoon with gentle breezes and new life all around - I really like this one, too! Lullabies often express the innocence of early childhood, and Julie's "Lullaby" is a light and delicate waltz that will gently soothe the soul of a "child" of any age. "You and Me" is a gentle, tender expression of love - another favorite. The title track expresses the peacefulness of looking to the horizon line where the sky seems to meet the ocean, creating awe-inspiring colors and images. Who hasn't wondered who or what was out there and what were they doing? I love this piece! The album closes with "Small Things With Great Love," a beautiful example of a "less is more" approach and how poignant that can be.
If you like peaceful solo piano with substance, be sure to check out Julie Hanney's music! Where The Ocean Meets The Sky is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes, Bandcamp, and streaming sites like Spotify and Pandora. Recommended!
February 12, 2021