Those unfamiliar with Fiona Joy Hawkins might be fooled by the title of her latest album, ICE: Piano Slightly Chilled, and the cover art featuring an abstract painting of a woman with (literally) impossible curves sitting on a piano, into thinking they are looking at an album of piano jazz. Something that belongs on the racks next to Diana Krall or someone trying to put a similarly modern stamp on a classic sound. If that’s your expectation, move along. This album is not for you. But if you’re into melodramatic new age music, press on.
On her Web site, Hawkins, claims this album is “a new exciting hybrid genre she calls — and which the world will soon embrace as — BLEND.” She puts herself at the head of this new genre, complaining she is tired of being lumped into the “tried and true new age category,” and saying artists all over the world feel the same way. And you can hear elements of different genres — highly processed rock guitar, classically influenced piano themes, programmed drum sequences, and a bit of world music (there is didgeridoo on four — count ‘em — four tracks).
Whether or not this is a new direction, however, is debatable. New age music has long been littered with pan flutes and “world” music instruments, and distorted guitars aren’t much of a revelation, either. Most of ICE is midtempo and moody, a lost score evoking the valiant cheese of a Lifetime movie, linked by the “ice” theme (sample titles — “Iced Rain,” “Cloud Chill,” “Love in the Refrigerator,” “Crystalized Love”). That seems to be what people love about new age music rather than some bold departure. It’s evocative but inoffensive and melodramatic enough to seem passionate. Call it BLEND if you want, package it to look like jazz, but it’s still new age music.
Review By: Nick A Zaino III[Rating: 2/5]