2019 / Coyote Floe Music LLC
Review by Kathy Parsons
Running Away is the seventh album from Timothy Wenzel, a composer/ pianist/ keyboardist who has also had a very successful career as a research scientist. The first thing that grabs your attention to this album is the stunning cover artwork by Daniel Bérard, who also did the artwork for Wenzel’s previous release, What We Hold Dear (2017). The image of a young girl running barefoot into the dark woods carrying a lighted lantern suggests many things, but is mostly an illustration of the fantasy of escaping ones current reality to start a new life. Not a concept album per se, Wenzel describes it as a collection of musical ideas that compliment one another. The twelve tracks include themes of travel, dreams, and escapism of one kind or another. Engineered and co-produced by Corin Nelsen, guest artists include Josie Quick on violin (9 tracks), Jill Haley on English horn and oboe (5 tracks), and Jeff Haynes on percussion (6 tracks). Wenzel composed, produced and mixed the music as well as performing on keyboards and synthesizers.
In addition to the new age and contemporary instrumental genres, Wenzel’s music has strong Celtic and Americana influences. Although it serves its purpose well as meditation and background music, the album should be savored at least a few times with full attention to enjoy the stories it tells as well as the beauty and nuances in the music.
Running Away begins with “Dream of Summer,” a warm and inviting piece that features Josie Quick and Jeff Haynes and expresses the “momentary ecstasy” of stepping out into a “fresh new world filled with hope and wonder” - a light and upbeat opener. “Dancing in Darkness” is a slow romantic waltz for violin and keyboard - very calming and peaceful. The sweet and gentle “A Bit About You” celebrates that mix of feelings that comes with meeting someone who just might be that “special someone” and features the magic touches of Haley, Haynes and Quick. Wenzel says of the title track: “I wrote this in the very middle of a cold winter night when I felt the inescapable urge to abandon all that I have ever known and start life over again. Just run away from it all.” A bit darker and more mysterious than the other tracks, it’s a favorite. I love “Makes You Wonder,” which was inspired by several ideas, “but mostly the feeling that life and this universe is not what you think.” Violin and guitar give the piece a laid-back, “folk” feeling, but there is something very compelling about the music. “A Friend of Mine” is a piece with Americana roots and tells of a small group of musicians who gather to spontaneously create “joyous music.” Very relaxed and uncomplicated, it’s easy to see rolling hills and old farmhouses while listening. “Gazelle Dance” is more orchestrated and features Jill Haley. Lively and playful in its depiction of the gazelles leaping as they run, there is also a more serious thread running through the piece. The hauntingly beautiful “Past Presence” was inspired by the feeling that someone from a past era has joined you - also a favorite! The album closes with a very different composition called “Coronal Rain.” Inspired by the phenomenon on the surface of the sun where a large body of plasma rises up to rain back down in a graceful arc, this piece is ambient and atmospheric as well as incredibly beautiful.
Timothy Wenzel has created another exceptional album with Running Away! It is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.
March 9, 2019