Fiona Joy

Fiona Joy Hawkins - Media, Reviews, What the press is saying about Fiona

Review by Will Ackerman 2008

"Fiona Joy Hawkins’ BLUE DREAM began as the most ambitious project of my entire career and resulted in one of the most remarkable collaborations this genre has ever known. The scope of what we contemplated in the beginning was so vast as to be nearly paralyzing, but with Fiona’s talent, both as a composer and player, and a group of musicians of world-class caliber, a 67:50 suite of music resulted. The music itself spans a broad range of styles and ethnicities and yet (though we didn’t know whether we’d succeed until the very end) is magically cohesive. It works! Never has faith been more rewarded. In the process we restored meaning to a word which has been sorely abused; Blue Dream is unique and I’m as proud of it (and Fiona) as anything I’ve ever worked on in my 35 year career of Grammy Awards and gold and platinum records."

Will Ackerman Windham County, Vermont 2008

Fiona Joy Hawkins is Chillin' at the Top of the New Age World, Hitting #1 on NAR's...

Fiona Joy Hawkins is Chillin' at the Top of the New Age World, Hitting #1 on NAR's Top 100 Chart With Her Groundbreaking 'Ice: Piano Slightly Chilled'

NEW YORK, March 13 /PRNewswire/ -- No need to adjust the thermostat -- Fiona Joy Hawkins is enjoying a wild ride through various exciting climates with Ice: Piano Slightly Chilled, the latest release on the innovative Australian based pianist/composer's Little Hartley Music label that is currently the hottest new age album in the world.

The collection is currently ranked #1 on New Age Reporter's Top 100 New Age/Ambient/World Radio/Internet Airwaves Chart.

#1 in NAR is quickly becoming a familiar spot for Hawkins, who created a global sensation with the two bestselling indie instrumental recordings that launched her career. Her 2005 debut Portrait of a Waterfall hit #1 on the NAR World Charts, made the top five in the MusicOz Awards for the classical genre, and was a finalist for Best Piano Album at the 2005 NAR Lifestyle Music Awards.

The multifaceted performer -- whose music is a staple on Sky FM internet radio's solo piano channel -- followed that with Angel Above My Piano, which won Best Piano Album at the NAR Lifestyle Music Awards in 2006.

The terms "new age" and "classical" may be part of Fiona's past, but with Ice: Piano Slightly Chilled, she's taking on the future full throttle, fashioning a new exciting hybrid genre she calls -- and which the world will soon embrace as -- BLEND.

The popular collection breaks ground on this emerging vibe, and fans everywhere are catching on and grooving right along. Her song "Frosted View" was nominated for the MusicOz Awards, making the finals while still in the demo stage. She uploaded four tracks from the album on MySpace in July 2007, and within the first two days was offered a global deal for two CDs with MG Music (Medwyn Goodall's UK-based label) -- for both Ice: Piano Slightly Chilled and her classical CDs as well as an album release in Asia with Mesa Music.

Clearly, BLEND is long overdue. "Music is an art form, a movement, ever evolving and ever changing," Fiona says. "Every so often, we're faced with a new generation of musical interpretation and therefore need to qualify it in some 'new' way. BLEND can be defined by the direction taken by instrumental artists all over the world, the new genre that takes over from New Age and turns distinctly in another direction. Artists like myself who are committed to the future of instrumental music are tired of being lumped into the tried and true new age category. And even though you can live your day listening to BLEND, it could never be described simply as 'ambient.' We're way beyond that now, committed to a style that encompasses creative inspiration to thrill the discerning ear. It's a whole new day and everyone's really excited about it!"

Rhonda Kelley
Rainmaker Public Relations
SOURCE Rainmaker Public Relations

Rhonda Kelley of Rainmaker Public Relations, +1-617-445-4383

Review by Bill Binkleman for the New Age Reporter



Ice: Piano Slightly Chilled..
Little Hartley Music (2008)

There's nothing like getting the new year off to an energizing start, something which pianist/keyboardist Fiona Joy Hawkins does on Ice: Piano Slightly Chilled, an album that sets the bar mighty high for 2008 chill-out recordings. I was caught completely unawares by this dramatic about-face from her previous release, Angel Above My Piano, which was more of a "traditional" new age piano/electronic keyboard recording. Ice... literally bursts out of the gate running flat-out and never looks back, ushering in Hawkins as an immediate contemporary of artists like Ryan Farish (whose music this resembles at times) and Amethystium. However, this is no mere Enigma knock off, no sir. Thanks to the complementary talents of guitarist Dieter Kleeman, didgeridoo player Michael Jackson, and Dave Hopper's bass, Ice… is a full-on chill-out assault, at times amping it up and letting the sparks fly with stinging guitar leads and passionate didge playing (Hawkins hails from down under, hence the didge's presence).

As on Angel…Bruce Wheatley lends his estimable hand at engineering and mixing and the sound here is excellent. Listen on headphones for best effect. Hawkins reveals a whole new side of her musical talent by handling not just the piano but also the synthesizers, as well as composing all ten tracks. She even contributes breathy (and sensual) vocals on "Snow Bird" (her voice reminds me of a cross between Enya and Julianna) and the haunting sexy downtempo "Crystallized Love" (my favorite song on the CD).

Previous to these two tracks are eight excellent instrumentals that epitomize the type of chill-out which I refer to as European, meaning it's less laid back than the American type and features electric guitar in a prominent role as well as more strident beats. Still, the overall vibe on Ice… is that of late night atmospheres, ice cubes rattling about in a tumbler of whiskey and streets awash in rain-reflected neon.

"Iced Rain" opens the album with pulsing Berlin-esque whirly-gigging synths, frenetic sampled hand drums, buzzing didgeridoo, and Hawkins' passionate piano runs. Kleeman's blistering guitar lines light up the skies even as Hawkins dials up the fire and passion on the ivories over ..Jackson's didge tonalities. Talk about kick-starting a CD! "Cloud Chill" turns the beats down to midtempo but the guitar moves into the foreground, pealing off both stinging licks and layers of power chords over a bed of didge and pounding snare and bass beats, all anchored by Hawkins melancholic piano refrains. "Frosted View" speeds the beat tempo back to fast amidst more didgeridoo and energizing piano. Slow and sensual is how "Love in the Refrigerator" plays it, smooth and sexy and satiny with lush keyboards, breathy synth chorals and plaintive piano set against snare and high hat rhythms, while "Frozen Rose" features thumping bass beats, wind effects, and sultry sax in a slow sexy number when compared to the relative higher energy of some of the other songs here. 

Coming after Angel Above My Piano and Portrait of a Waterfall, Ice… reveals a whole new side of this talented pianist and keyboard player. If my information is correct, next up is an album produced by Will Ackerman, which means this Aussie artist is reinventing herself yet again, or so it would appear. Fiona Joy Hawkins is poised to make the leap into stardom or I'm no judge of an artist's ability. To top it all off, she has the drop dead looks to make her the first sex symbol in a genre which sure could use a glamour injection (check out her YouTube video entitled "Photo Shoot 2"). Beauty, talent, brains, and ambition - talk about having it all! Hawkins may be just what we need to finally blow the lid off in contemporary instrumental music. I, for one, am rooting like hell for her. As for Ice…, it's already in the running for chill-out album of the year as far as I'm concerned. Very highly recommended!

Bill Binkelman

New Age Reporter

Review Bill Binkelman - 04-01-2009 FIONA JOY HAWKINS

Review Bill Binkelman - 04-01-2009 FIONA JOY HAWKINS
Blue Dream
Little Hartley Music (2008)

For a 180 degree turnaround from her electronica CD Ice: Piano Slightly Chilled (released earlier this year), Australia’s Fiona Joy Hawkins journeyed halfway around the world, teamed up with super-producer Will Ackerman in his Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont and recorded the jaw-dropping Blue Dream, a tour de force for both artist and producer. Comprised of 22 tracks (!!!), the album is Hawkins’ “most personal piece of music I have written yet,” and is literally “autobiographical” (per her liner notes). She refers to the album as a “piece” of music because, while there are indeed 22 “cuts” on the CD, the music flows unendingly throughout, the segues from fast pieces to slow meditations handled seamlessly yet with clear delineations, so that a listener who goes to selected tracks will not notice the lack of spacing yet someone who plays the album all the way through will discover a “whole” greater than the sum of its parts. This is just one of many allures of Blue Dream, a landmark recording for Hawkins and yet another feather in Will Ackerman’s cap!

This wouldn’t be an Ackerman disc without his passel of accompanists, except that this “passel” has swelled to such a large number that mentioning them all would take most of the remaining space I have for this review! Suffice it say the usual suspects are present as well as some relative newcomers. However, Hawkins’ piano playing predominantly holds center stage, carrying the lead melody and serving as the “sun” around which the instrumentalists and vocalists orbit and contribute (which is not meant to belittle anyone’s contribution, but only to describe the characteristics of the music itself).

The album contains both “songs” and “interludes,” the latter occurring every two, three or four pieces. The interludes are titled after colors (with one exception), e.g. “Sapphire,” “Lilac,” and “Indigo” to name a few. As their titles would indicate, they are short bridging selections, subdued in nature, sometimes solo piano and sometimes featuring other accompaniment.

The CD’s back cover list Blue Dream as “world fusion piano” an apt description with the presence of much ethnic percussion and didgeridoo, as well as lyrics in both Lugandan and Gaelic. While global influences surface now and then, the predominant motif is closer to previous Imaginary Road acoustic instrumental recordings. Blue Dream also frequently features a fuller richer sound than previous Ackerman productions, as well as more inherent variety track-to-track. Everything is anchored by Hawkins’ talent and versatility, whether playing energetic odes to joy (“Feeling Sunshine”), uptempo optimistic jazzy tunes (“Moving On”), romantic ballads (“From the Outside”) or classically influenced pieces (“Blue Dream”). No matter what style, tempo or mood she immerses herself in, her technique is matched by her obvious sincerity and passion. From the delicate nuance of “Sunrise at Ularu” to the powerful rhythmic excursion that is “Song Phonique” to the somber funereal-like “The Void” with its dramatic powerful ending crescendo, Fiona Joy Hawkins has elevated her playing to the highest level. No wonder she just won the MusicOZ Award for best jazz/classical artist in her native Australia.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the beautiful CD packaging for Blue Dream, the equal of its music. The digipack’s inner sleeve contains a booklet, detailing each track’s accompanists as well as other CD credits and featuring Steve Hawkins’ gorgeous winter landscape photography which serves as the perfect complement to the evocative music on the album itself. Blue Dream is a must-have album for fans of Hawkins and of Ackerman’s other recent productions, as well as devotees of contemporary piano and ensemble recordings, for which it sets a new standard of emotional depth, production quality, and musical variety. An exemplary release, one of the best of 2008.

Rating: Excellent

Bill Binkelman
New Age Reporter

Other Reviews

Indie Music stop - CD Review - November 8, 2007
WBZ Radio - The Jordan Rich Show - June 29, 2007
Click on the player to hear the Interview
Sydney Morning Herald - CD Review - April 23, 2007
Blue Mountains Gazette - 16-11-2005
Fiona Joy Hawkins Debut Concert Fiona's Talents are in Demand May 10 2006 June 21 2006
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Artist's Palette - INSIGHT - A Passionate Colourist
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Artist's Palette - DEMONSTRATION - Seascape Three
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