I love music, both singing and listening to it. My favorites run a wide gamut, and there's nothing I like better in the summer than to be hanging out with some wine and a picnic at Ravinia listening to a concert. Most times, it's classical music that they play - and that's where I first heard Yanni.
I'd heard of Yanni before that concert, though I'd never heard his music. I knew he was a pianist and was expecting simple classical music with just the piano, though perhaps accompanied by an orchestra to give the music depth. That isn't quite what Yanni does, though. He uses more than just the "plain" piano and frequently uses the keyboard and the various instruments available via it. And yes, he is most certainly accompanied, but it's more of a New Age feel. It was not at all what I expected, but I really loved his instrumental music.
Fast forward to now. Yanni has recently released a new album, Touch of Truth that is even more reliant upon electronic music than much of what I've heard before. That isn't a bad thing, and I actually enjoyed many of the songs. "Voyage" was my favorite, I think. It had a very Middle Eastern flavor, to my ears, and it made me want to get up to dance. Honestly, I think it would be an ideal song for belly dancing - not that it is always a super fast song but the rhythms and feel of it are a great fit. "Vertigo" also has a bit of the same feel, but not quite to the same extent. It's definitely a song that wants you to get up and enjoy it rather than relaxing on the couch.
Yanni also had a few songs with vocals on this album, which was a bit of a surprise to me. "O Luce Che Brilla Nell Obscurita" and "Secret" for example were songs with words (the first in Latin and "Secret" in English). I enjoyed "O Luce Che Brilla Nell Obscurita" for it's classic sound and moving emotions - though I didn't understand the words. "Secret" was one I didn't enjoy as much. For whatever reason, it just wasn't as special for me, and it's definitely not something I would have picked out as a Yanni song anywhere. "Nobody's got to know oh no, nobody's got to know. I've got a secret. Can you keep it? Nobody's got to know oh no, nobody's got to know." It didn't fit in the album for me.
I also felt like many of the songs would be great on movie soundtrack - perhaps I've been listening to too much Cinemagic on my XM radio lately! I could see "Mist of a Kiss" would make for a great soundtrack to a thriller. "Seasons" would fit right in with an animated movie with someone on a quest. Although it doesn't have Asian notes to it, I could still see it in a scene like where Mulan is training or in "The Neverending Story" as they flew.
While this isn't a "typical" Yanni album, which may disappoint some of his hard-core fans, the album is certainly enjoyable. This may not sound like high praise - but it is if you know me - this album is perfect for listening to while cleaning the house. It has great rhythms and the music makes me want to keep moving. It isn't too distracting from what I'm doing, however, that I simply stop because I can't focus on what I'm doing. The lack of vocals on most tracks certainly helps, as I've been known to stop and sing when I should be pushing the vacuum back and forth instead! But again... this is definitely a new direction for Yanni and not what I'd anticipated. While I enjoyed it, I can see this album causing some controversy amongst his fans.
Judge it for yourself. Yanni is currently touring throughout the US. You can see tour dates near you here. Sadly, there are no dates in Chicago.
In the interest of full disclosure, I was provided with a link to a digital download of the new Yanni album for review purposes by One to One Network. I was provided with no compensation, although I do have a chance to win a VISA gift card for posting my review. All opinions expressed are my own, as always.