Alexis Ffrench — Dreamland — Album Review

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Classical | Instrumental

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

With the likes of myself working from home due to the strange times of quarantine, I have been in dire need of a good instrumental album to essentially play as good background music. And as if a divine power answered said need, I stumbled across the newest record from contemporary pianist Alexis Ffrench, titled Dreamland.

Not only did this album serve as my introduction to Alexis Ffrench, but also the first time i’ve ever really listened to a classical album this critically. But hey, I promised that I was going to be far more open-minded towards new music this year, and here I am delivering that promise.

After enjoying and reviewing The Weeknd’s After Hours, I was left hungry for new music before the next wave arrived on Friday. That search led me to Dreamland, and I think what interested me straight away in regards to this album is just how indulgent and utterly gorgeous the sounds are on this thing.

While Alexis Ffrench’s weapon of choice is of course the grand piano, Dreamland shows a lot more musical depth than a simple piano medley (at least in most places). This is thanks to the additional instrumentation brought by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, whose use of strings especially won me over.

While I wouldn’t normally consider this kind of album one that I would go out and walk to (especially seen as we’re now only permitted to one a day). However, the intricate and beautiful melodies performed in the majority of tracks felt so immersive that it’s unorthodox nature barely mattered at all.

There are also quite a few tracks that have a lot of character to them, and I feel that this is partially down to Alexis Ffrench’s wide and mixed array of influences. In specific parts of Dreamland, we are treated to some elements that are considered unique on the album, such as electric guitar and a gospel choir. We even get to hear a nod to Beethoven’s 250th birthday in the track “These Days”.

I think where this album is at its weakest, however, is when we only have the piano to listen to. While I don’t doubt for a second that Alexis Ffrench’s skill and mastery of the piano is absolute, I simply feel that the songs I am writing about don’t have enough musical depth or uniqueness to really stick with the listener. in other words, they slip away from memory pretty easily. The early mid-section of this album especially felt like the weakest moment on the project.

But I think the most important part of why this album appealed to me so much is just how uplifting and downright serene most of the melodies are. And simply the fact that it had me interested in it pretty much instantly, despite being a genre that I would normally not listen to is a good example of why it is so musically appealing.

If you, like I did, need something purely instrumental to listen to, I couldn’t recommend this album more!

Favourite Tracks: Dreamland | Coming Home | Rapture

Least Favourite Track: Story of You

Alexis Ffrench | Sony Music Masterworks

8/10

My articles mainly revolve around music reviews and analysis. A bit like Anthony Fantano, but just a decade behind.

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