(4 / 5)
Third album from London-based pianist, singer and composer Joy Ellis – after 2019’s “Dwell” and 2018’s “Life On Land”.
All seven tracks here are instrumentals penned by Joy, who bosses it on piano, ably abetted by long-time collaborators Henrik Jensen on double bass and Adam Osmianski on drums.
Recorded at the end of May 2021, the material on “Peaceful Place” reflects on a turbulent and difficult year. Joy explains why this latest album is minus vocals…
“Moving through the pandemic I felt there were no words I could sing to capture the grief and sense of loss that I and other people I know had experienced. Therefore, I decided to compose an album with no vocals at all using my other instrument and first love, the piano.
“Entitled ‘Peaceful Place’, most of the tunes have a relaxed and minimalist vibe. I hope listening to this record feels like drinking a long, cool, refreshing glass of water on a baking hot day”. More like a tangy Mojito with lots of ice and a slice of lime to me, Joy!
Joy’s previous releases came to our attention, and we liked what we heard. Very much so. Check out our review of her debut long player in our “Reviews Zone”. Joy has a superb voice on her previous releases, but here the focus is on the calming instrumental material and the beautiful, deft of touch piano skills. The entire 39-minute set washes over you like warm waves lapping over the sand on a gorgeous remote island in the sunshine. So soothing and serene. (Where’s that Mojito?)
Her two compatriots Henrik and Adam are faultless and create a solid foundation for Joy to build upon. Never do the drums or bass clutter the sonics or get in her way, musically. Top guys with as much talent as Ms. Ellis.
For me, the fourth member of this ensemble, the fifth Beatle so to speak, is Damon Sawyer, who carefully recorded and mixed this album. A heavy-handed, tech-obsessed engineer/mixer would have killed the gentleness of this record, so bravo for Mr Sawyer’s skills – in association with Joy who gets producer’s credit.
Penultimate track, “Cascade” is a stand-out moment for me. A cinematic approach and puts me in mind of the wonderful score to the timeless movie, “On Golden Pond” – Joy has that gorgeous Dave Grusin feel on piano and in her composition chops.
The last track here has an apt tile, “Begin Again”, as many, like me, will probably have this record on repeat for a good while…
By James Silver
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’