Album reviews

A Glimmer of Hope

About the Album

A Glimmer of Hope | album cover imageThis album is Annie’s first in over twenty years and her first ever solo piano album (see reviews by Steve Shepherd and Cathy Parsons below).

She has written and improvised many pieces for piano since she started composing. The tracks on this album form a spectrum from her earlier pieces to more recent ones, with plenty left over to fill quite a few more albums! She also plans to orchestrate some of the pieces later.

Detailed information on the 13 tracks can be found in the 4-page liner booklet

Annie Locke website | One World Music Radio | logo

Album review by Steve Shepherd of One World Music Radio

Album review by Kathy Parsons

A Glimmer of Hope is British composer/pianist Annie Locke’s fourth album, but it is her first release in more than twenty years and her first solo piano collection.

The thirteen original pieces on the album range from earlier compositions up through more recent work. The music is warm and personal, and there is a comforting touch in all of the pieces.

Much of Annie’s music begins with improvisation and she retains that spontaneity and freshness in the finished work. Her classical roots are apparent in the richness of the harmonies and the beautiful flow of the melodies, and yet this music is timeless.

Annie Locke started playing the piano at the age of five and won a scholarship for lessons in secondary school, but between her father’s and her own serious health issues, she wasn’t able to devote as much time as she would have liked to her music. Despite those obstacles, she was accepted by the Royal Academy of Music in London and earned a music degree with piano and oboe as her main studies.

She didn’t start composing until after college and her discovery of the synthesizer. Her first three albums became popular relaxation music among a variety of health professionals as well as the listening public, and the music reached many countries even before the internet took off and landed in the “Top 10” Billboard charts in the USA.

The tracks

A Glimmer of Hope begins with “The Story Begins,” a colorful prelude and introductory “song without words.” “An End to Hunger, An End to War” was improvised in the first few hours of the Gulf War and reflects Annie’s emotional reaction to the unfolding events. Poignant and beautifully expressed, it’s one of the highlights of the album.

“River Story” has a peaceful grace that is almost hypnotic in its tranquility. “Riding Through Montana” suggests the vast openness of “Big Sky Country” and the majesty of the more rugged areas of the state. “Deep In the Forest” tells a fanciful story of night creatures in the deep forest who come out of hiding in the dark of night to dance until dawn. Much of the story is told from the lower half of the piano keyboard, which suggests a feeling of darkness – I really like this one!

“Honour” appeared in a more orchestrated form on an earlier album and was dedicated to the late Sir George Trevelyan. Warm and melodic with deep emotional expression, it’s another beauty.

“Natasha” elegantly conveys love and appreciation for a dear friend. “Encounter In Venice” is another favorite. It begins with sparkling broken chords that make me think of moonlight dancing on water. The second part of the piece tells a story – perhaps a meeting with a dashing stranger or a long conversation in a cafe. Whatever the actual event was, it must have been wonderful!

The album ends with “With No Regrets” – a great way to close!

Annie Locke is promising a series of solo piano albums, and I can’t wait to hear what else she has for us! I don’t recall hearing any of her previous recordings, but I really like this one! It is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Recommended!

Kathy Parsons MainlyPiano.com

Portraits

Album review by Kathy Parsons

Portraits album cover imageI recently reviewed British composer/keyboardist/pianist Annie Locke’s first solo piano album, A Glimmer of Hope, which is her fourth album and her first release in more than twenty years. Portraits, (which is reviewed here) was her second album …..

Needed now more than ever, Annie’s music.. provides a quiet, peaceful respite and offers a calming escape from the frantic pace of contemporary life and the daily jolts of nastiness that occur all over the world.

The keyboard sounds are a bit dated, but that takes nothing away from the tranquility of the music. Most of the twelve pieces are named for a person because, at that time, Locke was giving personal sessions where she intuitively played and recorded music that became each client’s own personal music.

The playing time of the tracks ranges from just under nine minutes to just over one minute. There is variety in the music from track to track, but the overall feeling is blissful. Many relaxation and healing albums are very ambient, but Locke’s music is melodious and more classically-structured than most music in that genre. She primarily uses the synth voices of strings, flute and electric piano.

The tracks

Portraits begins with “To Ra,” the longest track on the album. At just under nine minutes, it has plenty of time to create a peaceful, soothing atmosphere for the listener to slip into as the music works its magic. The melody is simple and the overall feeling of the piece is one of floating on a cloud or on a warm and gentle sea. “Sylvia” is a little less ambient and paints a very sweet and charming portrait of its subject. “Harp Interlude” is a brief exploration of a different keyboard sound.

“Grace” is one of my favorites. A bit more poignant than the previous pieces, the bittersweet flute sound is haunting. “Marmsy Asleep” is a dreamy and magical lullaby. “A Magic Place” is lighter and more fanciful, expressing a childlike innocence.

“Leprechauns” continues with a playful tone in a more Celtic style. For me, “Mike’s Country” evokes images of wide open spaces, rolling green hills and a simple way of life. “Fanfare For The Future” is a brief postlude that is quite different from the other pieces, but is a great ending to a fascinating album.

If you missed Annie Locke’s music the first time around (as I did), Portraits is a very pleasant find. It is available from Amazon (both US and UK), CD Baby and iTunes. Recommended!
August 23, 2017

Kathy Parsons
MainlyPiano.com

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