What is a promise? Listening to New Age music supergroup FLOW’s new album got me thinking about how promises, big or small, are guiding stars. They follow us wherever we go, and our wellbeing is directly linked to how people around us live up to their promises – and how we keep promises to ourselves. I’m happy to report that we can have trust in FLOW too. “Promise” continues where their 2017 album left off, proving that the band was meant to be. It is a rock-solid second release, taking the group’s sound to new heights.
FLOW consists of Australian pianist Fiona Joy, acoustic guitarist Lawrence Blatt, flugelhorn player Jeff Oster, and Grammy Award-winning guitarist Will Ackerman. The album was produced by Tom Eaton and Will Ackerman at Imaginary Road Studios with guest artists
Jeff Haynes (Percussion) and the already mentioned Tom Eaton on guitar, bass, and keyboards.
The title track opens the album. “Promise” starts gently with guitars, piano, flugelhorn, and light percussion. True to their name, FLOW uses little time to find that groove that made their debut album highly memorable. I like how the song makes each group member shine. Notice how every instrument is center stage at some point. It is a fabulous piece and a promise of what’s to come.
The first part of this album is quite contemplative and dreamy. “Something on Tuesday” makes us reflect on time, and how everyday life is filled with moments of beauty. Its quiet elegance makes the listener relax and dream. “Adrift at Sea” is one of the finest pieces on “Promise”. To be carried by ocean currents, when you have all the time in the world and no appointment on your calendar, is a fantastic experience. The song communicates this feeling splendidly. I like the ending; the song fades away as we hear waves, birds, and Oster’s lonely sounding flugelhorn. It is a good kind of loneliness.
All these Years
Time is an important topic on “Promise”. “All these Years” takes us down memory lane, to revisit places we used to know, people of the past, and moments in our lives when the world was new and filled with opportunities. The light vocalization is very nice, like a distant whisper.
At this stage, it really begins to get interesting. “Last Light”, the album’s first single, has a long intro. Around 2 minutes, the rhythm picks up, and we are introduced to the song’s theme. Wow, what a fantastic gift to us FLOW fans, and to the world. Just like “Arrival” defined their 2017 release, so do “Last Light” defines this album. “Fresh Air” continues in the same atmosphere. Fiona’s piano is center stage. It is a very colorful piece, taking the listener on a refreshing walk. I don’t know about you, but FLOW’s music always makes me breath easier. “Fresh Air” is an inspired piece!
“Nightfall” is quite different. Darkness is upon us, and FLOW does a fantastic job creating an exciting ambiance. It is indeed dark. Halfway into the song, we sense a shift; This night is not filled with dangers, but life and warmth. “Blue Umbrella” is another contrast. Its light, carefree vibe and triumphant ending make it into a very enjoyable listen.
FLOW has saved a jewel for the ending. “Chasing Secrets” has a nice touch of jazz and a free-flowing structure. Oster’s flugelhorn is in its right elements, backed beautifully by guitars and piano. It seems like a truism; when a FLOW song has a steady rhythm, Mr. Ackerman & co. deliver yet another winner.
“Memoire du Dome”, the last track, seems to underline the album’s thoughtful nature. Without the guitars, the piano and flugelhorn have a lonely sound. It is a homage to a memory, sad and lovely at the same time.
In conclusion: FLOW has delivered a well-made, positive, and unpretentious follow-up to their 2017 debut album. At this stage, FLOW is almost like a genre description. They have a sound other artists and bands will try to imitate. Playing in a band brings out the best in each artist. The album is a promise of what’s the future has in store for this unique supergroup.
Score: 97/100 – See our scoring policy
For more information and music samples, visit flowthegroup.com