Fiona Joy Hawkins and the Blue Dream Ensemble – Live at the Q CD Review

Fiona Joy Hawkins is a pianist/singer/composer from New South Wales, Australia. She has won a host of awards for her work, almost too many to mention, and she has been recognized by the classical, jazz and new age music communities. She is classically trained and has a wealth of albums released, the latest being “Live at the Q” with the Blue Dream Ensemble. The idea of a live album could certainly put deep fear into the heart of a lesser musician, but Fiona Joy Hawkins seems well beyond that.

“View from My Studio” is the opening track, and it’s nothing short of breathtaking. Sombre but focused, alone but connected to a higher power and in need of nothing, this is music to soothe and heal the tired spirit. The patience Hawkins exercises in her playing creates enough space in the piece to inject yourself into it. She doesn’t overwhelm you by over-playing, but instead allows the listener to paint their own picture with her experienced hands leading the way. “Freedom” shows the Blue Dream Ensemble’s wonderful vocal talents, and they begin to target the higher chakras, leading into “Feeling Sunshine”, where new elements are introduced; bass, tablas, shakers…this is really meant to be taken in as an experience rather than separate songs.

“From the Outside” brings us back to centre, while Fiona and co sing a lullaby-type song with an uplifting, meditative feel. “Standing Up” is a personal favourite, as it inspires the same internal action as the title would suggest. A similar melancholy to “View from my Studio” is audible here, although the same sense of resilience and hope, even personal evolution, is without a doubt felt as well. Every aspect of the piece is stunning and inspired; there is still hope, and it’s the piano that lights the way.

“Moving On” is suggested listening for a meeting of classical music and Indian rhythms, resulting in an elegant piece with angelic vocals over top. “Through Cloud” is more free-form, subtle, and typically gorgeous. “Improvisation” has to be heard simply because of what it is — an “on the spot” performance from a modern master. You can hear the discipline in the exploration, and the mood shifts ever so gradually. “The Void” makes for a wonderful closer and another album highlight, as it seems at once full of emotion and yet neutral and non-judging.

The music of Fiona Joy Hawkins pulls you in, and also pulls you into yourself. Her performance with the Blue Dream Ensemble here is nothing short of flawless.

By James Moore:

[Rating: 5/5]

Leave a Reply