2016 / Yanni Works, Inc.
Review by Kathy Parsons
I was a huge fan of Yanni’s music back before he had made much of a name for himself. I think it was in 1987 that I started waking up to his music on the radio and thinking that “The Mermaid” was one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’d ever heard. The more I heard, the more excited I felt about his music. I was there for Yanni’s first San Francisco concert when he was backed by John Tesh, Charlie Adams, et al. I did one of my first artist interviews with Yanni via Private Music and met him when he performed in Berkeley, CA in 1992. So, we have quite a long history.
I have always felt that Yanni is one of the most charismatic performers out there - especially in the days when his touring band included Charlie Bisharat, Karen Briggs, Bradley Joseph, Charlie Adams, etc. Such musical magic was created in those concerts! Fast forward more years than I care to count, and where are we? I applaud any established artist who is willing to experiment and branch out in different directions, and understand that there are bound to be some missteps when that happens. While Sensuous Chill is far from a bad album, it’s a disappointment. Yanni used to lock himself away for weeks at a time when he was creating new music, but now he has a whole crew of collaborators co-writing and co-producing his music plus vocalists adding lyrics to it. The music is no longer Yanni’s own vision - how can it be when most of the seventeen tracks on the album have 2-5 composers in the credits? So now we have Yanni packaged for a broader audience more inclined to listen to pop music than new age, world, or contemporary instrumental - genres Yanni helped to define almost thirty years ago. To me, Sensuous Chill lacks the magic that quickened my pulse and sometimes stopped me in my tracks. I get tired of the vocals very quickly and find them distracting. I love instrumental music and how it allows the imagination to run free. Yanni helped to bring instrumental music into the mainstream, so it’s disappointing that so many tracks now include vocals with lyrics. Are the songs bad? No, but that’s not what I want to hear from Yanni.
Of the seventeen tracks on the album, ten are new and the other seven are new arrangements of older material - some of which have been redone fairly recently. Since this is music that a new tour is built on, I can understand that some older material would be included, but only “Drive” (a new version of “Looking Glass”) and “Whispers in the Dark” come close to being Yanni signature pieces. So, sad to say that this is an album that will probably sit on the shelf now that my review is written. I had hoped for so much more.
February 7, 2016