Embarking on a fresh new chapter in her life musically, emotionally and spiritually, Carol Albert builds upon the inspiring career-shifting momentum of her recent Billboard Top Ten chart successes with her perfectly titled new full-length album Stronger Now. Featuring all original songs written and arranged by the prolific composer and pianist, the stylistically eclectic, 10 track collection - follow up to her 2017 breakthrough album Fly Away Butterfly - is set for release on Cahara Records January 31, 2020. Stronger Now includes two tracks previously released as singles that lit up terrestrial, internet and satellite stations. The Atlanta based artist scored her biggest success to date early in 2019 with the Brazilian flavored "Femme Flight," which hit #4 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Songs chart. Produced by Carol, mixed by two-time Grammy winning hitmaker Paul Brown and featuring flutist Ragan Whiteside and saxophonist Magdalena Chovancova, the track also earned Albert a new legion of fans via airplay on SiriusXM's Watercolors. Also featured on Stronger Now is Carol's latest single "Sun's Out," a Latin tinged track produced and mixed by Brown that is currently in the Top Ten on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Songs chart as well as MediaBase, Smooth Jazz Top 20 at #5, Radiowave at #3 and GrooveJazz Chart at #2. Her earlier chart hits include "Chasing Waterfalls" (which reached #15), "Fly Away Butterfly" (#5) and "One Way."
Stronger Now is the first of Carol's albums to predominantly feature production by Brown, who has scored over 60 #1 chart smashes for genre greats Peter White, Larry Carlton, Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum, Euge Groove, the late Al Jarreau and many others. In addition to the five tracks he produced ("Stronger Now," "Love Again," "Perfect Sunday," "Sun's Out," "I Am Fine"), Carol helmed "For The Moment" (which features Brown on guitar), "Femme Flight" and "Moon on the Water" and co-produced (with Brown's longtime associate Lew Laing) "Winter Rain" and "'Til We Meet Again." Carol's infectious piano melodies take wing with some of contemporary urban jazz's top sidemen, including bassists Sam Sims, Roberto Vally and Joseph Patrick Moore and drummers L'il John Roberts, Gorden Campbell and Jay Williams. While most of the tracks were created digitally, with Carol recording in Atlanta and sending her foundational files to Brown at The Funky Joint in L.A. for him to build on, the songs featuring Sims and Roberts ("Love Again" and "Perfect Sunday") were cut live in Atlanta. Key contributions were also made by Ben Babylon (string and French horn arrangements), Lee Thornburg (horn arrangements, flugelhorn and valve trombone) and acoustic guitarist Daniel Baraszu. Another point of interest: Carol recorded her parts on "Femme Flight," "Love Again," Perfect Sunday" and "Moon on the Water" on a venerable piano that Elton John and many other legendary artists have played at Silent Sound Studio in Atlanta.
"I met Paul at a show he did in Atlanta through my friend, trumpeter Rob Zinn, and he said to give him a call when I started working on my new album," Carol says. "He took his incredible ear and years of experience working with all kinds of artists to make incredible suggestions, oversee and put everything together, mix it to perfection and truly elevate my work. I'm so impressed with the quality of these musicians and the way all the elements came together. I'm very proud of Stronger Now and think it is the best work of my career."
From the title track to "Love Again," from "For the Moment" to "I am Fine," "Moon on the Water" and "'Til We Meet Again," Stronger Now is thematically a reflection of the powerful emotional journey Carol has been on these past few years - and her ongoing resilience in the face of great loss. "My last album Fly Away Butterfly was written and recorded during a healing phase of my life after the sudden death of my husband," she says. "This new chapter in my life has been about making it on my own. I am happy to note that one friend who heard 'Femme Flight' said, 'I see your butterfly has morphed into another winged animal' in free flight. During this period of my life, I have learned to experience joy, laughter, happiness and love, as well as many moods of solitude and introspection."
1. Stronger Now 3:43
2. Love Again 4:03
3. Perfect Sunday 4:03
4. For the Moment 4:24
5. Femme Flight (Album Version) 4:25 6. Winter Rain 5:31
7. Sun's Out (Album) 3:55
8. I Am Fine 4:39
9. Moon On the Water 4:23
10. 'Til We Meet Again 5:27
By Dee Dee McNeil
Carol Albert,piano/vocals/keyboards/programming/composer; Ben Babylon, string/French horn arrangements; Paul Brown, guitar/percussion/ production; Sam Sims,bass; Lil John Roberts, drums/percussion/piano; Daniel Baraszu,acoustic guitar.
Carol Albert is a composer, pianist and keyboard programmer. In league with producer and guitarist, Paul Brown, who is a two-time Grammy winning producer and hit record maker, they have created an easy-listening, smooth jazz recording. This is an album that grew out of Carol Albert’s “Sun’s Out” successful single release that raced up the Billboard Smooth Jazz Song list. It’s being played on smooth jazz stations across the country. Carol Albert has the talent of finding a repeatable melody line that sticks like glue and embellishing it with programmed keyboard parts, and tasteful live musicians who bring flavor and technical improvisations to help her music come alive. On keyboard and piano, Albert establishes the melody, but never really stretches out as a jazz improviser. She leaves the fluid improvisation to folks like Paul Brown, strong on his guitar. Lil John Roberts adds his drum licks to hold the grooves strong.
“I met Paul Brown at a show he did in Atlanta through my friend, trumpeter Rob Zinn, and he said to give him a call when I started working on my new album. He took his incredible ear and years of experience working with all kinds of artists to make incredible suggestions, oversee and put everything together, mix it to perfection and truly elevate my work. I’m so impressed with the quality of these musicians and the way all the elements came together. ... I think it’s the best work of my career,” Carol gushed.
Carol Albert manages to capture moods with her music. For example,her tinkling,arpeggio piano parts on the “Winter Rain” tune expands the imagination and paints pictures of rain with the piano. The warm groove that supports this song embellishes it like winter winds brushing back and forth in the midst of a peaceful storm. All of her songs are peaceful and easy- listening. On the current single, the one that’s making so much joyful noise on the Billboard charts, Carol Albert adds her vocals as part of the musical mix; no words necessary. On “I Am Fine” she does sing lyrics. The words give us a positive mantra to repeat; “I am fine now. I am fine.” On the song, “Perfect Sunday,” Paul Brown once again adds his brilliant guitar work and production techniques that make this a stand-out composition. For me, Carol Albert is more pop than jazz, but Brown’s guitar adds that slice of jazz improvisation and freedom that strays from Albert’s sing-song melodies and gives us a taste of the precious and important third element of jazz, which is improvisation. The final original composition by Carol Albert titled, “Til We Meet Again,” features the tasty talents of Daniel Baraszu on acoustic guitar. All in all, this is a smooth jazz mixture of classically based piano with a pop/jazz production twist. It’s a soothing way to brighten your day or to enhance your winter evening.
Carol has been nominated for the best of 2019 by the Smooth Jazz Network. This is a very prestigious honor and winners will be announced in early 2020. You can cast your vote for Carol by CLICKING THIS LINK.
Title - 'Stronger Now'
Artist - Carol Albert
Healing is a process and there is no substitute for time. As we move through each phase, we grow stronger.
Carol Albert has been very open about her recovery from the unexpected loss of her husband in 2014, letting go on the soul-soothing album Fly Away Butterfly.
On the cover of her upcoming brand new album Stronger Now (due out January 31st, 2020), we quickly see that Carol’s radiant smile has indeed returned. Furthermore, the delicate, gossamer wings of a butterfly have evolved into powerful, feathery wings, mighty and capable of fending for herself while gracefully soaring to new heights. And that is exactly what the award-winning composer, pianist, keyboardist and vocalist does on the aptly-named Stronger Now, which she produced with two-time GRAMMY® winner Paul Brown and Lew Laing.
1. 'Stronger Now' (3:43)
2. 'Love Again' (4:03)
3. 'Perfect Sunday' (4:03)
4. 'For The Moment' (4:24)
5. 'Femme Flight' (Album Version) (4:25)
6. 'Winter Rain' (5:31)
7. 'Sun's Out' (Album Version) (3:55)
8. 'I Am Fine' (4:39)
9. 'Moon On The Water' (4:23)
10. 'Til We Meet Again' (5:27)
On the album opener, the empowered, soaring title track, Carol immediately makes her listeners aware she has begun moving forward and is now ready to embrace her ornately luxuriant and vibrant piano work once again.
Setting her emotional journey to music, it's been said that Carol wrote Stronger Now intimately journaling her period of refortification.
Indeed, throughout the ten-song set, Albert summons the courage to again feel joy, love and laughter balanced with healthy periods of reflection, solitude and introspection.
Tracks such as both the melodic, uplifting 'Love Again' and the fragrant Latin jazz escapade 'Perfect Sunday' (the latter inclusive of Lee Thornberg's horns) are pure, unadulterated joys to behold, and are backed seamlessly by both 'For The Moment' (which features Paul Brown on guitar), and my own personal favorite, the gently frenetic Latin jazz fusion of Carol's impassioned piano work (combined with flutist Ragan Whiteside and saxophonist Magdalena Chovancova) on 'Femme Flight' (Album Version).
The weighty sojourn of 'Winter Rain' showcases another side, another mood shall we say, of Carol's chosen art form, but she doesn't hang around there too long before she's bursting into the light once again on the revitalizing 'Sun’s Out.'
As if needing to calm people's nerves about how she is handling the passing of her late husband, up next is a recurring mantra to them in the form of the reassuring 'I Am Fine,' with a career defining piece of piano poetry up next within 'Moon On The Water.'
The album then rounds out with the ode to her late husband, the sanguine, hope-threaded 'Til We Meet Again,' which complete with Daniel Baraszu’s stirring acoustic guitar, elevates the track just enough for us to feel that Carol is closing that previously-performed chapter on this period of her life and is now welcoming the next.
Featuring: Paul Brown (guitar), Dan Baraszu (guitar), Lil John Roberts (drums), Jay Williams (drums), Sam Sims (bass), Ragan Whiteside (flute), Magdalena Chovancova (sax), Joseph Patrick Moore (bass), and many other talented musicians.
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Two years ago the American Carol Albert came up for the first time with the album "Fly Away Butterfly". Now this new album is coming out on January 31, 2020, with 10 original songs. In addition to Carol's piano work, you can hear Paul Brown on guitar (who also produced), Dan Baraszu on guitar, Lil John Roberts on drums, Jay Williams on drums, Sam Sims on bass, Ragan Whiteside on flute, Magdalena Chovancova on sax and Joseph Patrick Moore on bass. The title track leads us in the direction of smooth jazz, but with a poppy edge. Then comes the soft "Love again", and the beautiful, Brazilian-looking "Perfect Sunday". "For the Moment" continues quietly, and the Brazilian tinted "Femme Flight" has already been released as a single. "Winter Rain" is a soft song, followed by the second single, the Latin tinted "Sun’s out". Carol sings on ‘I Am Fine’ herself, while she plays modestly on ‘Moon on the Water’. Closer "Til We Meet again" is ushered in by an acoustic guitar, and floats to a strong rhythm. Carol has overcome the death of her husband, and has delivered a beautiful album, partly smooth jazz, partly poppy. Recommended!
Patrick Van de Wiele
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