Jill Benson has certainly tried her hand at all manner of music-making, from rock covers to more sedate forms, she has taught both voice and instruments, she has played the flute on hip-hop tracks and has generally been forging a unique and varied musical career for thirty years. But there are always new ways to express yourself musically and always new challenges on the horizon.
With this in mind, she has returned to more understated and ambient pastures for her latest album, Dreamscapes, a piano-led album of instrumentals that wanders between the sparse and minimal and occasionally the more fully, formed and classical leaning soundscapes.
The depth and ambition of the project are neatly highlighted by the opening two tracks. The first, the title track, is a solo piece, a deft and delicate number built on a theme which seems to wander and reinvents itself throughout. This is then followed by an orchestral interpretation of the same, this time a more cinematic, wide-screen approach. If the former is a lightly sketched and sparingly hued watercolour, the latter is the vibrant oil rendering, vibrant and eye-catching.
But it is to the former, for the most part, that Jill looks for her creations. Lunch In Manhattan captures something of the pace and sophistication of the place that the title alludes to, a musical rendering of the busy streets as viewed through a restaurant window in a moment of calm and relaxation.
The Turning of Time is more cerebral, more thoughtful, and more poignant in its delivery. It is songs such as this that make the listener stop and muse on the nature of such an album. Most often, contemporary music at least is driven by the lyrical component, which takes the listener by the hand and leads them to a set conclusion, the writer making sure that they interpret the song in the way that they intended. Classical music in particular and instrumental and orchestral music in general leaves the listener to their own devices, to take from the song whatever they need and imbue it with whatever message or meaning is relative to their life.
And that is what I love about albums such as this. It suggests rather than pushes. It allows the listener to lead the way rather than showing them too clear a path. It is music with a different meaning for each who chooses to listen rather than trying to unite everyone in a common consensus.
Rainy Sunday paints its images through cascading notes falling into the mind of the listener, Peaceful Escape is, by its very nature, meditative and calming and the album rounds off as it began, the gentle waves of Forever Love then delivered a second time by a seductive and atmospheric orchestral take.
Not only a gorgeous album but one that is happy to meet the listener halfway and in doing so is accessible and relevant to everyone.