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Album Review: Polarized
Samer Fanek
Cover image of the album Polarized by Samer Fanek
Samer Fanek
2020 / Samer Fanek Music
36 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Polarized is the third album from pianist/composer Samer Fanek, following his award-winning Wishful Thinking (2016) and Guide Me (2018), as well as his 2019 single, “Just Like the Wind.” Like his previous albums, Polarized was recorded and produced in Samer’s home studio near San Francisco. Recording at home can (and often does) result in a very thin, tinny sound, but Samer is a software engineer who has been perfecting his sound quality - and that quality is excellent on this album! The eleven tracks are a mix of solo piano and more orchestrated pieces, and the title reflects on the sometimes sharp contrast between the highs and lows of life. “Most of these songs were created when I was going through moments of sheer joy and at other times moments of extreme frustration in life, resulting in a contrasting album, with joyful/romantic songs being complemented by some melancholic songs.”

Born and raised in Amman, Jordan, Samer Fanek found his musical passion as a teenager. He is a self-taught pianist who learned to play his favorite songs by ear. When he discovered music production software, he learned about the various instruments and how to put them together in his compositions. His YouTube videos have had more than 3.3 million views. Also a very gifted performer, Samer’s dream is to take his music to world stages and perform it with live orchestras.

Polarized begins with “Tides,” an introductory piece that describes how life experiences can be like tides of different shapes, sizes and extremes. It begins quietly with mostly piano and strings, building gradually and adding percussion and bass to create a vibrant Middle Eastern feeling. Near the end, an electric guitar passage kicks up the energy level even more - definitely a beautiful study in contrasts! A dreamy piano solo, “Do You Remember?” revisits cherished memories from the distant past - a favorite! “Broken Dreams” goes in a much darker direction with feelings of deep frustration that nothing in life is working out. Very intense and emotional, piano and percussion are the driving forces in this piece with a few other instruments added here and there. “Life Can Be Beautiful” brings us back to warm sunshine and gentle breezes - a perfect soundtrack to images of spring flowers or a pastel sunrise. “Starting Over” is a nod to second chances and a fresh start - very light and optimistic with piano and strings. “Some Days Are Cloudy” is a pensive and very beautiful piano solo. “Raindrop,” also a piano solo, reflects on the hope contained in the rain that cloudy days can bring - especially in California! “Dearest Of All” is a fully orchestrated love song to what is most important in life. “Life Goes On” for piano and orchestra gives a strong sense of moving forward with acceptance and resolve. This one hints at Yanni’s influence on Samer’s music, but is in Samer’s own distinctive musical voice. The lovely solo piano “Just Like the Wind” was released as a single last year, and I’m so glad Samer included it here, too! “Wishful Thinking” is a solo piano version of the title track for Samer’s debut album and brings Polarized to a very soulful close.

Polarized is a treat from start to finish! It is available from Amazon and Apple/iTunes as well as various streaming sites including Spotify. Very highly recommended!
November 30, 2020