10 Songs, 44 Minutes

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Ratings and Reviews

5.0 out of 5
4 Ratings

4 Ratings

Christian Celebration ,

Album Review by Dyan Garris

“Promise” is more than a soggy expectation. It delivers on every level: Up, down, and sideways. –Dyan Garris
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“Promise” is a mesmerizing album collaboration between 4 award-winning musical artists. Flow, the group name, is an acronym of the members, F (Fiona Joy Hawkins), L (Lawrence Blatt), O (Jeff Oster), and W (Will Ackerman). “Promise,” the group’s second album, is one long seamless, impeccable flow. As Jeff Oster said in a radio interview with Donna Jo Thornton of The Morning Breeze, “’Flow’ [their debut album] was perfect for wine and cheese. ‘Promise’ is perfect for scotch and prosciutto. It’s more mature.’”

Sounds tasty, indeed, and I agree. There is a smooth, effortless, upscale sophistication about the album. But I think it’s an understatement. “Promise” is more than a soggy expectation. It delivers on every level: Up, down, and sideways. This is 10 tracks of intimate, magical synergy.

Part of the magic here, and what really stands out over any one song on the album, is that none of the group members – each successful in their own right – tries to upstage any of the others. They show up and play as one. Yes, it’s a flow. And an amazing one.

The album features Fiona Joy on piano and wordless vocals, Lawrence Blatt on Acoustic guitar, electric guitar, ukulele and bass, Jeff Oster on trumpet and flugelhorn, and Will Ackerman on guitar. Guest artists are the masterful Jeff Haynes on percussion, Tom Eaton on guitar, bass, keyboards, and accordion. The songs on the album were all co-written by the four group members.

“Promise” opens with the title track. This is light and hypnotic, a glimmering hint of anticipation for the rest of what follows. A relaxing soundscape, “Something On Tuesday” draws us in with its dreamy horns, fanciful piano, and soft guitar. “Adrift At Sea” perfectly captures the feelings of such, and incorporates ocean sounds and sea gulls. It’s great and we’re floating. Very nice. Gentle, nostalgic and reflective, “All These Years” is the perfect blend of lives well lived. Fiona’s wordless vocals are hauntingly perfect and a beautiful match to the very dreamy horns, percussion, piano, and guitars. Lovely.

“Last Light” is super smooth, just as a pastel sunset might be melting over the ocean. This starts out quietly, then gets lively and up-tempo and we are flowing along with the snazzy and slightly jazzy evening. Great melody, great everything here, and it’s a favorite. Another mind-sticking melody is found on “Fresh Air.” This is quite relaxing, with an outstanding mix by Tom Eaton (on the whole album as well), and we can feel the soft, fresh breeze on the face. And again, nothing on this album overshadows anything else or anyone else. It’s all a cohesive unit. And that is a breath of fresh air.

The super sultry signature horns by Jeff Oster lead us languidly into “Nightfall.” Haunting vocals by Fiona Joy add to the intrigue of the night. Very sensuous. “Blue Umbrella” is carefree and ultra-relaxing. “Chasing Secrets” has a kind of jazz feel and sophisticated elegance. Breezy, understated, and flowing, it’s another favorite. The album closes out with “Memoire du Dome.” Hauntingly beautiful, it’s the perfect close. But we all look forward to more from the group, Flow.

“Promise” lives up entirely to its name and has a phenomenal flow. Just the right amount of breathing space in every song – just the right amount of everything - this is an excellent, soul-soothing conversation that will put you in the “zone.” You will want to get the whole album.

KathyPiano7 ,

From MainlyPiano

"Promise" is the second album from FLOW, the ensemble of established indie artists Fiona Joy Hawkins (piano, vocals), Lawrence Blatt (guitars, bass, ukulele), Jeff Oster (flugelhorn, trumpet) and Will Ackerman (guitar). Tom Eaton (bass, electric guitar, keyboards, accordion and percussion) and Jeff Haynes (percussion) appear as guest artists. Eaton also recorded, mixed and mastered the album at Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont. The ten tracks were co-composed by all four principal artists and reflect on a variety of life experiences. Other than Fiona’s wordless vocals, the album is all instrumental. I find it fascinating that no one is the “star” on any of the tracks and that it’s easy to tune in and out of each part without losing the “flow” of the music. FLOW released their self-titled debut album in 2017 and went on to win Album of the Year honors from both the IMA Awards at Lincoln Center and Zone Music Reporter Awards in New Orleans. Personally, I like Promise even more than the previous album and think that the two-year wait for a sequel was well worth it!

"Promise" begins with the beautifully soothing and graceful title track - a lovely way to start! “Something On Tuesday” is a dreamy two-part piece with a warm, sunny attitude. There isn’t a distinct break between the two main themes, but the volume dips a bit right before the second theme comes in. Both themes are gentle, relaxed and hypnotic. “Adrift At Sea” expresses the quietly undulating rhythms of the ocean and features the sounds of the surf and gulls. Very peaceful and dream-like, it’s a favorite. “All These Years” is more ambient, expressing feelings of nostalgia, reflection and tranquility. The first part of “Last Light” paints images of the quiet that descends as the last light of day fades. The second part of the piece picks up the tempo and spirit to create a more lively party feeling - night life! “Fresh Air” begins with a quietly ambient prelude. The main theme of the piece has a stronger rhythm and is somewhat more melodic, but maintains the peaceful and soothing vibe. The darkly mysterious “Nightfall” is my second- favorite track on the album. Slow and open, the haunting atmosphere was created in part by Oster’s muted horn. “Blue Umbrella” has a wistful, rainy-day feeling (kind of like the one we’re having here today!). The brightly rhythmic “Chasing Secrets” has an easy smooth jazz flow that I really like. My favorite piece on the album is “Memoire Du Dome,” the closing track. Eaton’s accordion adds a distinctly French flavor while Oster’s horn and Fiona’s piano do a sensuous slow dance. I really like the mysteriously romantic tone of this one!

FLOW has created musical magic with their second release, and I’m sure "Promise" will be one of my favorite albums of 2019! Check it out!

thedigitalimager ,

Promise

This is a long awaited release from Imaginary Road Studios. Individually, each of these artist creates amazing music, but when they come together; it's pure bliss. A musical gem and highly recommended!

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