Monday, July 1, 2024

REVIEW: JILL HALEY - Colors Collide

Colors Collide

Jill Haley's latest foray and subsequent musical interpretation of an American National Park takes her to the southwest, Arizona to be specific, and the Petrified Forest National Park. Arguably one of the lesser well-known in the Park system, Haley unearthed a bounty of beauty which inspired this, her 11th album chronicling her travels and artist-in-residence experiences in the National Park system. To my ears, this recording is far and away the most subdued, reflective, and serene, in this series with only occasional moments of uptempo melodies. Much of the album flows with a quasi-minimal sensation, imbued with a quieter sense of grace and infused with a deep feeling of respect for the unique areas of the park and its historical significance in both the region and its ancestral Native inhabitants' past. As she wrote to me in a document, "While exploring the park over 2 weeks, [I] also discovered some amazing petroglyphs (pictures etched into rock by ancestral inhabitants of this area.) More striking color combinations were observed, and the “gift” of colors became the starting point of many of the compositions on this recording."

Besides the more subdued nature of the majority of the songs (two exceptions being the title track with its cheerful nature and midtempo pace and "Splashes of Silver" which features a cheery undertone, perhaps befitting its title), another distinction between Colors Collide and her previous Park titles is the addition of flutist Dawn King-Krown, who joins Haley and her more usual guests, husband David Cullen on guitars and bass, and son Graham Cullen on cello. Also, and this is just how I hear it, I think Haley's piano takes a pronouncedly more prominent role on the ten (out of eleven) tracks it's featured on. Haley appears to be showcasing her talent on the instrument, which is all for the better, to my ears. Of course, her oboe and English horn still play a vital role and obviously her artistry on those two wind instruments needs no additional praise from me.

From the opening sparse piano lead (over a bed of synth textures) on "Crimson Bands," soon joined by Graham Cullen's exquisitely lovely cello, to the symbiotic nature of Haley's piano and English horn on "Orange Melts Into Blue," through to the closing "Agate House" and its calm, flowing mixture of oboe, cello, and piano, evoking an image of a orange/red sunset in the desert landscape, Colors Collide solidifies Jill Haley is very much a national treasure with the many musical paintings of this country's bounty of nature that she has given to her legion of fans over the years. The good news is there are still a lot of National Parks left for her to visit (there are 62 in total!). 

NOTE: This is album will be available for purchase in August. I received a pre-release copy.

All compositions by Jill Haley
Album co-produced by Jill Haley and Corin Nelsen
Album mixed and mastered by Corin Nelsen
Piano, guitar, synthesizers, and flutes recorded by Glenn Barratt at Morningstar Studios
Cello recorded by Graham Cullen
Oboe and English horn recorded by Corin Nelsen
Album photos by Jill Haley

Jill Haley: Oboe, English horn, piano, synthesizer
David Cullen: Guitar and bass
Graham Cullen: Cello
Dawn King-Krown: Flutes