Review – 600 Years in a Moment

It’s A Small World After All

The term “globalization” came into use around 1830, but its meaning has never been more clear than in 2013. With the advent of the internet, satellites, social media and cell phones, the world has shrunk to the size of a planetary village. There is no doubt that the diaspora of the Celts reached all the around the globe, at some time turned southeast at the pacific, and touched down in Australia. With a bit of nuance and a lot of style, the Land of Oz’ favorite daughter, pianist Fiona Joy Hawkins proves it on her tour de force release, 600 Years in a Moment. This is Fiona’s answer to globalization. The provenance of this album is as old as the world and as new as the rising sun. Hawkins proves once and for all that she belongs on the short list of New Age composers that can delight and enchant with every performance. The album is 12 tracks of slightly Celtic/contemporary/New Age piano and light ensemble played on old world instruments and a hand made piano by the renowned Stuart & Sons. You are in for a treat. This is, and please pardon the oxymoronic concept, modern history in musical terms.

Fiona’s hushed voice begins the title track, 600 Years proclaiming, “The end is the beginning, 600 years and I will be home.” Suddenly I was treated to the sparkling notes of the piano and the delightful voice of Heather Rankin. It is a promise of a return and that a life has come full circle.

Naked Love tended to be a rather complex song, but that is as it should be. What is love but the act of total surrender, the opening of your heart completely and admitting to your emotional vulnerability. It is as naked as you can get. And then there is the other side, the giving of yourself, the promise of faithfulness and music made by the sound of two hearts beating as one.

One of my favorites on the album is The Journey. Too many artists use the term journey as a metaphor for the time spent searching for the right chord or the right audience. In many instances this in measured in days in the cellar by the untalented or unknowing. In this case it is Fiona’s physical journey across the globe, playing, composing and hoping. And all along the way finding her particular sound of beauty.

Gliding reminds me of New Age music from the eighties. It was a time when Windham Hills and Narada vied for the most serene recordings they could find. It was the birth of a new age in music. The tune is pastoral with a lightness that is the standard of the genre offering wings to explore beyond the physical.

Any day is a good day for a dance, but Fiona’s moody piece Tango on Wednesday seems to exude anticipation in a dramatic way. It is something to look forward to. It is not just the swaying, the spinning or the jaunty steps that will take place. It is the caress of the flesh, the warmth and the contact.

Like the continent it is named after, there is nothing cold or vacant in Fiona’s rendition of Antarctica. Instead she finds the vast, frosty land a place of consolation. Perhaps it is the clarity of the starlight there or the beauty of the Aurora Australis made by the passing of souls in the southern sky.

My favorite on the album, however, is Forgiveness featuring Fiona’s euphonic piano and the haunting Chinese bawu, a wind instrument that sounds surprisingly like a clarinet. It made me think of Richard Stolzman’s sound. The bawu in this piece is played superbly by Paul Jarman. I know I have mentioned it before, but I am big on forgiveness. There are so many wrongs being wrought in the world and the only way to handle them is with forgiveness. The song is a sweet testament to the power one can garner when a burden of resentment is lifted from one’s shoulders.

There are many talented artists on this album and they are literally, too many to mention as well as a quick nod to producers Will Ackerman and Corin Nelsen. This is Fiona Joy Hawkins best album to date and I believe I’ve said that before. She has hit all the right buttons, or piano keys on this one. The combination of ancient instruments and contemporary compositions mesh seamlessly to give an amazing performance.

Rating: Excellent   Excellent

– reviewed by RJ Lannan on 8/2/2013