Album Review: “The Fire Within” by Jennifer Thomas

40139219_10155514913606689_6789604461816840192_nAs you guys know, I like a lot of different music. I think with the amount of times I’ve talked about my love of symphonic metal, cinematic and Celtic music on here, it definitely wouldn’t surprise you to hear anything else out of the ordinary.

Today, I will be talking about a pianist that I really enjoy, her name is Jennifer Thomas. She’s released four albums since 2006, but I found her music in 2014, with a track called “Requiem Of A Dream” off the album Illumination and I still play it on my iPod every once in a while if I need that nudge of strength in the middle of the afternoon.

On the 16th of October, I was on my Release Radar playlist on Spotify that keeps track of what has recently come out by my favorite artists and bands. It’s a great thing to have if you are like me and have a boarder range of music, this can help you find new music that isn’t always highlighted on New Music Friday that everybody usually uses during the start of the weekend. Anyways, this was where I found out that Jennifer had a new song out, but once I clicked on there, I quickly realized that it was more than just a single release and that I had missed the whole launch date completely since the album came out the week before. Yeah, that’s my luck for you!

This is called, The Fire Within and it’s kind of short, as there’s only ten tracks on it. There are two songs that feature another pianist and a vocalist, which is usually outside of the norm for her music, but I’m open to it especially since the singer has a lovely voice, but we’ll get to that in a bit. There are things I need to say before we go on with this. Since the music is relativity instrumental, I will be going about this in a totally different way then I normally do. I will be focusing on how I’m feeling and what kind of pictures the song itself will create, sort of like a dream, in other words there will be a lot of metaphors down below!

We start with the title track, “The Fire Within” and we have our first special guest, The Rogue Pianist, who really goes by Kimberly Starkey, helps Jennifer out with it. I like the fact that it’s well-balanced between the heaviness and almost epic-ly tone of the orchestra, but still have a touch of mellow sounds of the pianos throughout that the ladies bring is very beautiful. It’s a very intense, but yet romantic type of song. Second is “Awakening” and the beginning is so pretty, but I have to say, the piano isn’t as dominant in this as I thought it would, but I still like it. The upbeat drumming with that violin coming out of the darkness, pretty much takes things up a notch. I was immediately taken to a beach with only a black piano and brightly red violin playing as the sun was going down when the song continued on; that wouldn’t be a half bad idea for a music video, just saying!

“Girl In The Mirror” is next and I remember writing this out and hoping this had some kind of creepy vibe going through it, as it was getting closer to Halloween at the time. I mean, you can’t exactly blame me here! I wasn’t too disappointed with the ending result, as it still had an eerie tone to it, but honestly you get this sad, empathy feeling within you when you really start to listen to the piano coming to focus. I really liked the fact that you could clearly hear a flute at the end, it added to that gentleness of the song. Afterwards, we have another track that I was very curious about, “Rise Of The Phoenix” which could go perfect with my little story about a phoenix that will die, but for eternity. I figured this would be a powerful type of song, and it’s exactly that–in your face, but not in the way that I originally saw it to be. It was really lively, and the drums gave it another edge, you nod your head to it, because it was a constant beat that you could follow through, and sometimes with instrumental that simple act can be difficult to do. The whole thing is mischievous kind of like a phoenix would sort be, rising out of its ashes as a baby.

We move on to “Ascension” and after the last one, I’m kind of glad we’re back on the softer side of things. The sound isn’t overpowering, and the piano and violin bring out a fun element to the song. Despite having the instant calmer feeling, as I kept picturing a woman running around in a densely woods, she’s dancing on top of brooks and just enjoying the sunshine above her. This only occurred when the tempo increased and become of a symphonic beat.  The sixth track “Soaring” has the artist Eurielle on it. She specializes in the cinematic world, mainly works on fantasy driven music. She doesn’t exactly sing in this, more like “ahh-ing” her way through it, which I’m perfectly okay with that. This has a humble beginning, but the whole thing turns into this magical tune that made me instantly think of fairies flying around in a lush green forest.

These will be the last four songs of the album. We have “Because Of You” now and I’m always fascinated when pianists or any composer have a modern title, like this, because even though they are no lyrics involved, how do the titles come about for that person? Forgive me for going off subject a bit, but is anybody else like that too? Anyways, this is a gentle song. It’s not obnoxious or too quiet, to me it’s right in the middle and can be perfect for any time of the day. Next, there’s “Believer” and at first, when I wrote out the title on my notepad I was like, “oh, Imagine Dragons! I haven’t heard that in awhile.” So imagine my face when I realized that I didn’t have to go look it up afterwards, because here it was playing right in front of me, but this time the sound itself isn’t as grand but it still has the essence of it which I really liked. If you truly know the song by heart, I dare you to belt it out while listening to this version, because there are no singer featured besides the choir in the background towards the end!

“Time” is on and I was almost curious to know if this would be a piano version of another song, but even if it was, I don’t think I would have recognized it right away! It is generally a slow start, there’s a kind of somber vibe going on with this one. I kept seeing a woman covered in gray with a bright red coffee mug pacing back and forth in a hospital hallway. It’s one of those songs that make you visualize depressing things going on; it was interesting as this rarely happens whenever I listen to certain sad songs but in a way I think I liked it. And lastly, there’s “Glorious” and I really loved the lively introduction. After having such a downer in the previous song, this is just beautiful. It’s so bright and happy with all of the instruments going together in harmony. I kept thinking of small children skipping along on top of a hill, having the best time ever. I thought it was a gracious end to the whole collection.

I really enjoyed listening to the album. I thought every song had it’s own story and even a personality built into them. I think Jennifer created an interesting batch of music. It incorporated two of my favorites: piano and a cinematic vibe. There were many different things that I liked about it. I thoroughly love piano music, and always have since I was little. I was never able to learn how to play, although many people did try their hardest to educate me on how to read sheet music in the past, I just wasn’t able to keep up with it. So, I have grown up appreciating it in a different way and I find that to be more helpful to board other people’s horizons as well. I definitely recommend checking this out and the rest of Jennifer’s music if you want to explore piano music on your own!

Have you listened to Jennifer Thomas’s new album “The Fire Within” yet? If you have, what did you like or not like the most about it? Do you have a favorite track?

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