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A Southern Sun

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Customer Reviews

From MainlyPiano

"A Southern Sun" is the fifth solo album from pianist/composer Joseph Akins and the first of all new originals in more than four years. Akins wanted this collection of fourteen piano solos to reflect his southern roots more than his previous albums, and while "A Southern Sun" does just that, he by no means abandoned his jazz or new age stylings. Akins is an incredible pianist - one of the best, in my book - with a sunny and positive outlook on life, and those factors are even more apparent on this album than in his previous work. He is also a professor of recording industry at Middle Tennessee State University and holds advanced degrees in jazz piano and electronic music and a doctorate in education. I love this album from the first note to the last and expect it to be on my list of Favorites for 2013.

"A Southern Sun" begins with the title track, a warm, easy-going piece that sets the tone of the album. “Along Stones River” was inspired by a greenway along Stones River in Akins’ hometown in Tennessee, a place he visits often for peace of mind. The quiet energy of the first theme makes me think of a flowing river while the second theme has more of a walking pace and the feeling of letting go. “Waltz in the Rain” is a poignant and bittersweet waltz and one of my favorites. I can’t wait for the sheet music for this one! “Dancing On the Sea” is playful and carefree, bright and energetic. Although this is a solo piano album, one of Akins’ cats, Arwen, has a small part in the introduction of “An Inspiration.” The beautiful melody as well as the slow, graceful pace and slightly melancholy feeling make this another favorite. “Muscadine Wine,” named for a grapevine native to the South that produces a sweet wine, is a relaxed and dreamy jazz piece sure to elicit a sigh. “Sunshine” picks up the energy level with a peaceful yet swirling vitality that exudes pure joy. “Winter Is Coming” goes in the opposite direction although it is far from a downer - I really like the darker cast of this piece (another favorite!!!). “A Tennessee Morning” has the lazy warmth of a promising new day when the world is quiet and peaceful. I love “Theme from a Dream,” a melody that came to Akins in a dream. Slow, elegant and heartfelt, I’m so glad he didn’t forget it when he went to the piano! “Watertank Hill” is a wonderful closing to this incredible album. I’m not sure how to define southern solo piano, but this one certainly come close! Dedicated to the towering water tank near his boyhood home where he spent many hours playing and eating Granny Smith apples, this piece speaks to me of freedom and having fun. Great stuff!

Even though Joseph Akins has been one of my favorite pianist/composers for quite a few years, "A Southern Sun" exceeds my rather lofty expectations. I give it my highest recommendation!

Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus

The title of Joseph Akin’s latest recording, A Southern Sun, provides some insight into the inspiration for the music. As he describes: “I wanted this album to reflect my southern roots more than my previous albums. I kept this in mind while creating it.” The first song is the title track, which Joseph says came from the cover art. There is an uplifting quality to the melody and evolves through various movements. Joseph has a wonderful sense of dynamics and timing, knowing exactly when to pause for dramatic effect. I was also aware of how, in certain sections, his left hand provided a solid anchor, while the right hand danced lightly over the melody. On the next track, “Along Stones River,” gentle rolling arpeggios provide a sense of movement and flow like a quietly meandering stream. By contrast, “Dancing On the Sea” is bouncy and upbeat perhaps even revealing a trace of Joseph’s background in jazz. More than a trace of this influence is heard on a track called “Muscadine Wine,” particularly in some of the choice of chords that lean towards the jazzy side of the spectrum. I found this piece especially appealing. Another song that lives up to its title is “An Eagle’s Flight,” which after a brief introduction, leaps off and takes flight. There is a dramatic flair to this piece, which made it one of my favorites on the album.

One of the things that impressed me the most about the music of Joseph Akins is the range of styles and moods he covers. Yet there is a distinct musical identity that is present in whatever piece he is playing. I admire an artist who can explore diverse musical terrain, yet maintain a continuity that allows the various elements to sound like they all belong to a body of work. Joseph Akins is a supremely gifted pianist and composer with a flair for writing memorable melodies and performing them with great style and emotion. Fans of innovative piano music will certainly enjoy basking in the warm glow of A Southern Sun.

A Great Southern Tribute to Home...

Joseph Akins album “A Southern Sun” is a beautiful tribute to his upbringing in his southern home in the USA. This album takes me back when I lived in Texas as a teen. I know thats not where he is from however, he has reached my soul by the way he writes. Each song is so incredibly different from each other and the story telling in each song is superb. There is not a bad track on this album, I cannot choose just one over the other. I highly recommend this album!

A Southern Sun, Joseph Akins
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