2016 / Samer Fanek Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Wishful Thinking is the debut album by Samer Fanek. Born in Jordan and now living in the San Francisco Bay Area, the self-taught pianist, keyboardist, composer, and producer has been creating some amazing music from his home recording studio. Of Polish-Jordanian descent, Fanek’s music crosses many cultural borders and expresses a wide variety of emotions. He cites Yanni as his biggest influence, an influence that is readily apparent, but Fanek is no copy-cat. The album contains thirteen original compositions that are performed on piano/keyboards with traditional orchestral sounds, as well as rock and ethnic instrumentation. Fanek used samples from more than fifty virtual instrument libraries and synth patches to create the album, playing all of the parts himself. These kinds of orchestrations can often sound thin and tinny, but Fanek has done a remarkable job of creating a rich, authentic sound similar to that of Yanni’s early recordings (before he actually went symphonic). Fanek hopes to soon assemble a large ensemble of talented musicians to tour the US and his home countries performing his music. His dream is to create powerful and dramatic instrumental music that tells a story and has an enduring emotional impact on those who hear it. I’d have to say that this debut album is so impressive that Samer Fanek is well on his way to making his dream come true. He will no doubt make the world a happier place as he fulfills his own dreams.
Wishful Thinking begins the album in a dreamy mood with piano/keyboard backed with lush strings and, later in the piece, full orchestration. The graceful nature of this composition would lend itself beautifully to a dance or figure skating performance. “Universe” contrasts a very commanding sound with passages that are a quieter piano. The addition of electric guitar heightens the drama even more, expressing how powerful the universe is and at the same time how fragile it is - a great piece! The stirring “Freefall” explodes with a big orchestral sound and an infectious enthusiasm. “Fairytale” has a similar feel to Yanni’s “Felitsa,” the wonderful piece he wrote for his mother. Light, flowing and almost buoyant, it’s a delight. “Lost Waltz” is a piano-based minor-key waltz with a charming yet haunting quality. There is an outpouring of emotion in “Left Behind” that is both haunting and very beautiful. “Fantasy” is sometimes big and dramatic and sometimes delicate with some impressive piano work and an abundance of heart-tugging strings. “Escape” is also big and bold, but has a very intense air of tragedy and heartbreak. “Remember Me” scales back the drama a bit, but is every bit as poignant, seemingly from a much more personal perspective - gorgeous! “Finding Closure” begins and ends with a delicate piano solo, but builds to a passionate climax that pulls out all the stops - a compelling closing that will leave listeners wanting more.
I predict that Wishful Thinking is the beginning of a remarkable musical career for Samer Fanek. The album is already climbing the charts, so check it out! It is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!
August 3, 2016