2018 / Samer Fanek
Review by Kathy Parsons
It’s been more than two years since Samer Fanek released his very successful and award winning debut, Wishful Thinking (2016). I’ve been anxiously looking forward to his follow-up, and Guide Me was definitely worth the wait! Once again, Samer created all of the music in his home studio, utilizing his keyboard and 50 different virtual instrument libraries and synthesizer patches to perform each of the instrument parts himself. All eleven tracks are piano-driven and are an exciting mix of big, bold pieces and music that is softer and more romantic or pensive. Some pieces are fully-orchestrated and some are solo piano. Yanni’s influence is very evident, but Samer’s style is his own. He performed a solo piano house concert in my series in May 2016, and I was very impressed with Samer’s musical performance as well as his engaging interaction with the audience. I sincerely hope that Guide Me will catch the attention of an international audience and give Samer and his music the recognition it deserves!
Samer Fanek was born and raised in Amman, Jordan to a Polish mother and Jordanian father. He moved to the US in 2008 to complete a Master’s degree in computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While he was there, he often played the piano after classes and discovered how much he enjoys making a positive impact on people with his music. It became Samer’s dream to create music that affects people’s lives emotionally and to do that on a world-wide scale. Samer took piano lessons for a short time in Jordan, but he had already discovered that he could teach himself by listening to music that he likes and that he was able to figure out what each instrument is doing by ear.
Guide Me begins with “Grand Opening,” a powerful opener that boldly announces “I’m back with more music!” Samer says that he thinks this will be a great piece to open concerts with (I agree), so his fans have that to look forward to! The impassioned piano is front and center throughout this exciting piece along with soaring strings, driving percussion and bass. Whoo-hoo! We’re off to a great start! “Long Time Ago” is a much quieter and more reflective piano solo. “Newborn” opens as a lively piano solo with a bit of reverb that gives it a slightly mysterious sound. As the piece becomes fully orchestrated, it becomes more wistful and poignant and is always very beautiful. Samer says that “Now You See” is his personal favorite on the album. Piano and orchestration give the piece a graceful sweep as well as a powerful emotional impact. It’s a beauty! The title track is a lively and lovely minor-key waltz that is also fully-orchestrated with the piano in the lead. “Chasing Time,” one of the more intense and rhythmic pieces, features driving drums, soaring strings and lightning-fast fingers on the piano. Great stuff! The sweetly lyrical “For Lila” is a piece Samer wrote for and dedicated to his mother. Piano and strings make this piece an elegant expression of love. “Back to Hometown” was created with thoughts about the long journey back to Jordan, evoking feelings of nostalgia and homesickness. This touching piano solo clearly expresses those emotions and brings this excellent album to a close. I give Guide Me both thumbs up!
Guide Me is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby as well as various streaming sites.
November 30, 2018