Ann Sweeten: Spiritual, Emotional and Uplifting Piano for All Who Love Well
Love Walks Through Rain
(Orange Band Records, 2023)
“It is often,” reflects pianist-composer Ann Sweeten, “that people ask me where I get my inspiration. As for me, the pieces almost seem to write themselves. I think it must be then, that the source is divine, and while I play one instrument, I become, yet another.”
On her new album, Love Walks Through Rain, Ann’s music effortlessly flows, settling us into our full spectrum of quiet emotions. Every track is unique, and each note a wealth of Ann’s personal history. A long-term Steinway artist with classical training, her compositions go beyond New Age music toward a classical crossover, yet still hold a transcendent and spiritual quality. Ann helps us to deeply feel all of our emotions with this album, especially where we are stuck.
At the album’s opening, we imagine the Salem, MA-based artist in reverie over the nearby verdant meadows on “Valley Greene,” followed by a track that reminds us that love transcends species, especially our canine companions. Much of this album is written in honor of Ann’s beloved dogs, Jazzy and Remy, who had emotionally carried her through serious health challenges in her life; their loss was devastating. How do dogs show their affection? "Glimmer" (5:21) might refer to eyes that shine with a warm light, as the piano is joined by strings; cherish the natural eye contact while you're playing or just rubbing a fuzzy noggin. In looking to the heavens above, we next see "Seirios" (4:08) the Greek name for Canis Majoris, the ancient Dog Star, aka Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, which has been romanticized for millennia. A beautiful tribute, and one senses Ann’s soulful commitment to her babies memories, and the spiritual medicine of the dogs’ energies in the songs dedicated to them.
Moving back into Ann’s beloved naturescapes, we take a moment to indulge an ancestral instinct, finding a familiar path through "The Hills of Riversong" (5:32). Here, the music endeavors to capture the original voices and remain true to the ancients. As with any modern heartbreak, "The Shadow of You" (4:38) remains, sometimes we follow familiar shadows around and do the things that they used to do. The album closes, like a bookend, with "Valley Greene Orchestral Reprise" (4:26). One hears the marvelous violin, echoing phrases, with the supporting cello and calming English Horn.
Elegant is the word that comes to mind for Ann and her music; she was a successful ballet dancer earlier in her life, gracing the stage in Swan Lake, Les Symphides and Sleeping Beauty. One can feel that kind of exquisite, free-flowing coryphee movement in her music here, which sweeps across our souls, reminding us that life is a dance, and sometimes we must endure the searing pain of loss to experience the greater rewards these experiences offer in abundance.
The dance between the higher piano melodies and the soft, rhythmic tones of the other instruments helps us to navigate our feelings of relief, hope and calm. Co-produced with Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton at famed Imaginary Road, the all-start guest performers include Charlie Bisharat (Violin), Eugene Friesen (Cello), Nancy Rumbel (English Horn), Premik Russell-Tubbs (Akai EWI Wind Synthesizer, Soprano Saxophone), Will Ackerman (Guitar), Tom Eaton (Bass).
Offering 11 generous tracks, Love Walks Through Rain is a deeply soul-stirring album for reflection, relaxation and special times with loved ones. The blanket of lush, melodic reverie inspires positive emotional and mental states. Love is one of the strongest human emotions in existence, and as Ann will tell you, Love is the steady gait as we seek to navigate life’s ups and downs.
1 Valley Greene 4:22
2 Glimmer 5:21
3 Seirios 4:08
4 The Winter’s Circle 5:33
5 Love Walks Through Rain 4:54
6 Red–Requiem for an Old Friend 5:58
7 The Hills of Riversong 5:32
8 The Shadow of You 4:38
9 Through Jasmine’s Eyes 5:12
10 Out of the Fog 4:42
11 Valley Greene Orchestral Reprise 4:26
Listen at https://annsweeten.hearnow.com or buy it on Amazon https://a.co/d/d79X4To
Photos by Randy Yoder, RBY Photography, Salem, MA.
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