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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
Other reviews from The Sounding Board by R J Lannan:
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  As We Imagine by Lisa Pressman, reviewed by R J Lannan on 9/24/2019
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A Glimmer Of Hope
By Annie Locke
Label: Self Released
A Glimmer Of Hope tracks
1. The Story Begins  
2. An End to Hunger, An End to War  
3. River Story  
4. Riding Through Montana  
5. Deep In The Forest  
6. A Man Called Alan  
7. Honour (Piano Version)  
8. Natasha  
9. Holiday In Shanghai  
10. Towards The Summit  
11. Encounter In Venice  
12. Whatever It Takes  
13. With No Regrets  
Where have you been Annie Locke?
A long time ago, a young woman with a great deal of talent at playing the piano had an accident. An accident that would be life changing for most. And it almost was. But let's make this long story, short. Annie Locke is back at the keyboards in full vigor. Her new album A Glimmer of Hope is a thirteen track reminder that she still has what it takes to render heartwarming, spirit calming pieces. The album is a blend of the old and the new, but for me they are all new as this is my first encounter with her music. For that I am grateful. Her inspirational solo piano work is charming, exhilarating, and satisfying.

The album opens up with the inevitable number, The Story Begins. It is like opening the page of a book where we are given the setting and we are immediately pulled into the narrative. The music is sunny and bright, warm and flowing. The light hearted tone is a precursor for the rest of the recording.

An End to Hunger, An End to War plays out more like a prayer than a theme. The intro sounds like an old fashioned hymn. Annie admits that much of her work is improvisational, but I can't help admire the passion she infuses into her music as the composition unfolds. There is a suggestion of calm and a great feeling of inspiration in the song.

You can almost feel the coolness of the shadows and smell of earthy decay on Deep in the Forest. You are witness to something simple and organic as the trees tower over you almost blotting out the sunlight. Annie uses the lower register to add a slightly somber tone, but it is to be expected as we walk the path to our destination. The joy is in the journey.

Holiday in Shanghai sounds like a soundtrack, but a good one. Locke mixes eastern and western elements to excite the listener, but ensures that you know exactly where you are. The greatest city on the Chinese coast is fraught with history and mystery and Annie's tune makes sure you are treated to both. We can visit the Old Town, eat in the French Concessions, or visit the multitude of temples, but according to the music, discovery is ours for the taking.

Whatever It Takes sounded to me like an affirmation from Annie and I liked it for that. It is a serious piece, but not a gloomy one. I can never know how challenging her battle was to come back from where she was, but I know of such circumstances. They are places of despair, of pain, and of depression. The music reflects the degree of inner strength it takes to return, but it is triumphant in the end. This was a favorite among all.

The story continues in the last tune With No Regrets. It is certainly a new chapter with a promise written in big, bold letters to herself or to any that listen. The reflective tune is made of memories of not how difficult the whole thing was, but how much was gained from the journey. There is more after the healing, but it takes time. This is another one of those number that sounds like a theme song, an introduction to something new and exciting.

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed all of the thirteen tracks of Annie Locke's contemporary music. I was drawn into every adventure and when it was over, I wanted more. Annie Locke is noted for several previous albums, but her piano work stands out among many of today’s pianists as richly rewarding audio fare. I can’t wait to hear more. Welcome back Annie Locke.
Rating: Very Good   Very Good
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 4/26/2018
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