Julie Hanney is an Oregon based Pianist who is well versed in multiple genres while showing her own unique voice within it all. Having been Classically trained since a young age, Julie went on to earn her degree in Music from the University of Oregon. In addition to a number of impressive achievements – composing music for Jones Road String Quartet and the Bend Cello Collective, just to name a few – Julie has released a few albums of her own which demonstrate her impeccable skills as a Pianist. Expressive without being pretentious or needlessly flashy, Julie’s music is performance with an aura – one which will emotionally move you in many ways.
Released on January 22, 2021 through Heartdance Records, Where the Ocean Meets the Sky contains some remarkable, memorable, melancholy, and inspiring piano compositions. “Peace Hymn”, the album’s opening number, is a lovely introduction into everything that sums up her style of composition, performance, and expression. Not settling for a dull moment, the follow up number, "Flow", showcases an impressive piece set in a modal key (D mixolydian, to be precise) with some sparse chromatic measure transitions that appear on occasion. Although only Pianos are recorded on the album, I really found Julie’s “less is more” approach to recording to work extremely well throughout. Her technical prowess allows her to compose and record with such depth that it isn't even necessary to add any additional instruments or orchestration to any of these selections. The music is so vividly expressive, I end up finding myself in another place where the music portrays the very landscape I imagine myself in. On “Echo of a Seashell”, for example, I can picture a calm, abandoned beach where the ocean waves bring me solace. A similar ambiance can be experienced on another piece such as "Celtic Dream", where the listener's own imagination can be taken to the breathtaking, lush scenery of the Emerald Isle.
“Reverie” is one of my favorite pieces on the album; its brilliant minor key transitions and clever, modal shifts in key really impressed me while keeping my undivided attention to its overall somber and pensive mood. The glorious title track, “Where the Ocean Meets the Sky”, has an ethereal, reflective, and yet uplifting mood to it. I can almost see this being a nice song to play around the Winter Holiday season during moments of nostalgia or relaxation from the everyday madness that builds up to that time of year. The closing track, “Small Things With Great Love”, closes the album on a wonderful note. Cinematic, thoughtful, and with a touch of mystery, I’m left with a sense of awe and wonder; I eagerly look forward to see what Julie comes up with on her next release to start the next chapter of her musical journey as a composer and performer.
Julie Hanney’s new release Where the Ocean Meets the Sky is a compendium of some truly breathtaking, light Classical Piano music. If you’re an enthusiast for music straight from the heart with no samples or unnecessary effects that allows your mind to be drawn to a place of serenity, happiness, reflection, or wonder, I highly recommend checking this album out.