Artisan Music Reviews’ Review of “Promise”

The following is a review of “Promise” from R J Lannan of  Artisan Music Reviews. Click here to read the review on the Artisan Music Reviews website.

FLOW, the much celebrated quartet of New Age and contemporary music of late returns with their adroitly created  second installment, Promise and it certainly lives up to its title. The award winning foursome, as if you didn’t know it already, consists of Australian pianist Fiona Joy (Hawkins), guitarist Lawrence Blatt, flugelhorn master Jeff Oster, and Grammy Award winning producer and guitarist, Will Ackerman. Each member has an initial in the band’s name. Hence, FLOW. Every member is a certified virtuoso of their instrument and have proven themselves time and again on solo and collaborative projects for Ackerman’s brainchild, Imaginary Road Studios.

A little ukulele, figurative speaking, guitar, and horn open stylistically on the title tune Promise. I have never thought as the ukulele as a lead instrument, but under Lawrence’s tender hand it becomes one. Four string do a theme make. The melodic covenant has equal contributions from everyone balanced well on a dynamic beginning.

Oster is master at his task and never fails to add an evocative, oftentimes opulent background to the songs on which he contributes. He soars on the tune, All These Years, adding a fluid grace to an uplifting melody. Just a whisper of voice on this one, and the guitars add polish to an otherwise sumptuous refrain.

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New Age Music Guide’s Review of “Promise”

The following is a review of “Promise” from BT Fasmer of New Age Music Guide. Click here to read the review on the New Age Music Guide website.

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.

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All About Jazz Review of “Promise”

The following is a review of “Promise” from Jakob Baekgaard of All About Jazz. Click here to read the review on the All About Jazz website.

Promise marks the welcome return of FLOW that released its acclaimed self-titled debut in 2017. Behind the name lies the talents of trumpeter Jeff Oster, singer and pianist Fiona Joy Hawkins and guitarists Will Ackerman and Lawrence Blatt. On their second album, they continue to refine the signature sound they introduced on the debut.

The title track is a supreme example of how the group works with dynamics in the music, adding and subtracting instrumental layers while increasing or slowing down the tempo from the tactile touch of a single instrument to the lush palette of musical colors. Whether finding beauty in the stroke of a single chord or the motivic development of lines, FLOW create complex lyrical stories that are also remarkably intuitive. It’s this paradox that makes the music so compelling combined with the fact that the group don’t settle into fixed patterns.

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The JW Vibe Review of “Promise”

The following is a review of “Promise” from Jonathan Widran of the JW Vibe. Click here to read the review on the JW Vibe website.

That’s the thing about promises. They capture our imagination as we’re grounded in the present and turn our attention to hopeful moments in the future. I felt it 2017, when I first heard that veteran composer/musicians Fiona Joy (piano), Lawrence Blatt (guitar), Jeff Oster (trumpet/flugelhorn) and Grammy winning guitarist and Windham Hill founder Will Ackerman were combining their unique individual vibes as FLOW.

Promise was in the musical air, and – capturing the imagination of countless global new age/contemporary instrumental fans – they delivered splendidly on their self-titled debut. The sensual, easily rhythmic tapestry of their combined spirit-transportive sounds translated to great critical acclaim, numerous tour dates (including shows at Carnegie Hall and the Grammy Museum), and Album of the Year honors at both the ZMR Awards and IMA Awards.

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2indya Review of “Promise”

The following is a review of “Promise” from Vivek Kumar of 2indya. Click here to read the review on the 2indya website.

What happens when a cluster of celebrated musicians come together, bringing together their individual brilliance to fuse something unique that blends every aspect of their art to create something unique and different from the usual? Well, the answer is this album–Promise. I am sure you have heard their debut album as a group too–FLOW–a rare experiment that was lyrically beautiful and successful. Like me, if you have been expecting more of such soulful music from this collaboration and looking forward to some new tunes, ‘Promise’ fulfills them.

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Ambient Visions Review of “Promise”

The following is a review of “Promise” from Michael Foster of Ambient Visions. Click here to read the review on the Ambient Visions website.

As I was listening to FLOW’s new album called Promise the one thing that immediately crossed my mind was that I wasn’t listening to 4 musicians each doing their own solos showing off their individual skills but instead I was hearing a group playing. There’s a fine line between a group of individuals who play music together and a group of individuals who blends their unique talents into creating music that is perceived not as individual efforts but as a shared movement in the same direction, with the same mind and with the same heart as to where they want to go. Listening to the music on Promise is more of an experience of hearing the music played by FLOW as opposed to hearing a guitar played by Will or Lawrence or the piano played by Fiona or the horn played by Jeff. The lines blurred and it simply became great music played by FLOW the group and that’s the distinction between a group of individuals playing music together and a group of musicians who move and think as a group in their composing, recording and performing of their music.

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TheaterByte’s Review of FLOW Live at Carnegie Hall

The following is a review of FLOW’s live performance at Cargegie Hall from TheaterByte. Click here to read the review on TheaterByte’s website.

FLOW or Fiona Joy Hawkins (piano), Lawrence Blatt (guitar), Jeff Oster (trumpet, flugelhorn, sound effects), and Will Ackerman (guitar) has become one of the most highly regarded “New Age” quartets currently on the circuit. All of these artists have established major performing and recording careers: Fiona Joy in her native Australia and Lawrence, Jeff, and Will in the US. Grammy-winner Ackerman, the “senior” member of this foursome, opened the door for the commercial success of New Age compositions and performers with his founding of the music label Windham Hill Records in 1972. This new millennium “fab four,” frequently adds talented sidemen to their ensemble when they record and tour. For this concert, FLOW wisely chose Tom Eaton, a true musical factotum who contributed on bass and piano, Premik (Russell Tubbs) a legendary multi-instrumentalist, Vin Downes a brilliant young guitarist, and veteran percussionist Jeff Haynes.

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Music Street Journal’s Review of FLOW

The following is a review of FLOW from Music Street Journal on their concert at the Royal Room in Seattle. Click here to read the review on Music Street Journal’s website.

It was a rare warm May evening in Columbia City, near downtown Seattle, when my wife and I walked through the door at the Royal Room, to take in our first ever Flow show.

The room was full, like the moon that decorated a wall of the showplace. Over a hundred fans were in attendance, so the word had gotten out that this was a show not be missed – the recently minted band Flow (named after the band members: Fiona Joy Hawkins [Australia’s “Enya” on piano and voice], Jeff Oster [master of the flugelhorn and trumpet and truly a great Chuck Mangione–like master], Will Ackerman [one of new age’s seminal musical composers, producers and directors on guitar], and Lawrence Blatt on acoustic and electric guitar, and ukulele).

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Bentley’s Bandstand’s Review of FLOW

The following is a review of FLOW from Bentley’s Bandstand on The Morton Report. Click here to read the review on The Morton Report website.

Thirty years ago New Age was almost a cult music for those seeking the silence. Fairly or not, it was way off the map for those born into rock & roll. Flash forward, though, and there is much to love about a music that soothes rather than scorches. Both styles can be scintillating once the stereotypes are beaten into dust. Flow is a quartet comprised of Will Ackerman, Fiona Joy, Lawrence Blatt, and Jeff Oster. They include guitars, keyboards, vocals, and brass. There is a supple groove that propels each song, provided by Ackerman and Blatt’s guitar and Oster’s trumpet and flugelhorn. Joy is a singer and pianist who absolutely lives up to her last name, and when she sings the skies open with her sound. Best of all are the quartet’s intricate originals, whether they’re in the foreground or the background. This is music that can be played anytime and anywhere, and always thrills. Ackerman, also known for founding Windham Hill Records, is someone to keep an ear on. He’s been breaking traditions his whole musical life, and shows no sign of stopping now. Of course, there are a half-dozen guests joining in, but in the end it’s Flow that delivers the spirit. Feel and heal.

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