June 06/09/23, 2023
Listening to Love Walks Through Rain is as easy as taking in a breeze, the instrumental piano magic just flows, eventually bringing a full spectrum of the quiet emotions. Every track is unique, and each note brings a history. What I hear is music that reaches beyond New Age, and leans toward a classical piano crossover and neo-classical, a sound that, somehow transcends spiritual levels and transports the listener to a higher plane. Ann helps us feel all emotions with this album. Much of this album is written in honor of her beloved dogs that have emotionally carried her through some serious challenges in her life. Feel the transformative power of the artist’s perseverance and the spiritual medicine of the dogs’ energies.

After over a quarter century of enamoring audiences on the Concert stage and on the Airwaves, Ann Sweeten’s signature style is recognized worldwide. Her style is decidedly unique, embracing not only the classical realm, but aspects of jazz, film scoring, new age and popular music. One of the most decorated pianists of the last 26 years with albums consistently ranking in the Top 5 ZMR Radio Charts, Sweeten is also one of the most played modern instrumentalists in North America. She is a Steinway Artist, a featured C.A.R.E. Artist with Healing HealthCare Systems. A Breast Cancer survivor twice over and currently battling leukemia, Ms. Sweeten is a passionate individual and artist, a staunch environmentalist, animal activist and vegetarian.

The dance between the higher piano melodies and the soft rhythmically slower tones of the other instruments helps the listener to experience feelings of relief, hope and calm. It embodies a respect for the good memories in life. Guest performers include Charlie Bisharat (Violin), Eugene Friesen (Cello), Nancy Rumbel (English Horn), Premik Russell-Tubbs (Akai EWI Wind Synthesizer, Soprano Saxophone), Will Ackerman (Guitar), Tom Eaton (Bass).

The first track sets the mood that warmly stays through the whole album, a fresh, slightly melancholic but always delightfully uplifting combination of feelings. Love is clearly the focus of this music. “Valley Greene” (4:22) lays out the terrain, this solo piano version speaks of showing that you care, of making someone feel special, telling them they are loved, and doing things for them.

Love transcends the human species, and includes many of our warmest canine companions. How do dogs show their affection? “Glimmer” (5:21) might refer to eyes that shine with a warm wavering light, the piano is joined by strings. The key is to maintain natural eye contact while you’re playing or just rubbing a furry back or nosey noggin. Now looking to the heavens above, “Seirios” (4:08) is the Greek name for Canis Majoris, the ancient Dog Star, sometimes known as Sirius. Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky and has been romanticized for millenia. “The Winter’s Circle” (5:33), an homage to those six stars in the darkest sky, also known as the Winter Hexagon. Sometimes on a dark and clear moonless night, you can see part of the softly glowing river of stars that we call the Milky Way, meandering right through the center of the Winter Hexagon. I think I hear a violin and the English Horn.

Perhaps we do best and feel a sense of joy when we see our partner happy, and when they are sad or depressed, we feel their blue mood, too. “Love Walks Through Rain” (4:54) sharing laughter and tears, the course of love never runs always easily. Now for the hardest of the emotions. A requiem is performed for the dead, “Red–Requiem for an Old Friend” (5:58) completes the circle of emotions, not all forms of love are the same. This track was inspired by a Red Maple that stood in the yard of her and her husband’s home for 40 years before it had to be cut down. The massive tree lived for two centuries and its root ball weighed over 5000 lbs.

Stepping back now, take a moment to indulge an ancestral instinct, finding a familiar path through “The Hills of Riversong” (5:32). I think that the music endeavors to capture the original voices and remain true to the ancients. As with any modern heartbreak, “The Shadow of You” (4:38) remains, sometimes we follow familiar shadows around and do the things that they used to do. On the track “Through Jasmine’s Eyes” (5:12) I hear sparkling runs, strings and a horn. The melody and twinkle of these sweet uplifting piano notes show the happy, pure and innocent nature of Jasmine’s personality. I remember my first dog, a thunderstorm of fuzzy playfulness, and how I would tell her my deepest childhood secrets. Emerging “Out of the Fog” (4:42) the guest musicians blend their instrumental voices with the piano, like water, with Saxophone (Premik Russel-Tubbs), Bass (Tom Eaton), & Guitar (Will Ackerman). Like a sunset, the colors change and bring new feelings, I hear layers of quietly energetic positive intricate full-hearted and beautiful sensations.

The album closes, like bookends, with “Valley Greene Orchestral Reprise” (4:26). I hear the marvelous violin, echoing phrases, with the supporting cello and calming English Horn. Each time I listen, I find that Love Walks Through the Rain is a deeply soul-stirring experience that envelops me in a blanket of lush, melodic reverie bringing strong and positive emotional and mental states. The feeling grows steadily, with strength and courage, and emerges, out of the misty fog, and on into the light.

"Sweeten has a special gift for translating emotion into musical form,” writes Ron Schepper of Textura, adding “While her music is sometimes categorized as New Age, it transcends that designation for its intensity of emotion... Sweeten excels at fashioning material that speaks with immediacy to listeners’ inner lives, no matter how different their experiences might be.”

Showcasing Sweeten's extraordinary talent as a pianist, composer and producer, Love Walks Through Rain features 11 deeply personal original tracks drawing from her own life experiences. This new work reflects her unique ability to translate emotions into melodies while treating listeners to an elegant blend of classical, new age, and contemporary instrumental elements.

During a particularly challenging few years, Sweeten found solace in her musical expression, and emerged evermore convinced of the resilience that love provides in the face of life's challenges. Each track tells a story – shared in her generous liner notes – weaving together themes of loss, healing, and the transformative power of love.

She shares, “Love keeps you going and I have been blessed in that: my husband has always been right by my side. Love is the steady gate as we navigate life's ups and downs. And my love for my dogs, and their love for me, will always warm my heart and cocoon my soul." The songs "Through Jasmine's Eyes" and "The Shadow of You" pay tribute to Sweeten's beloved canine companions, who are featured in poems and pictures in the CD booklet's generous liner notes.

To record the album, Sweeten returned to Imaginary Road Studios to co-produce the album with Will Ackerman and Tom Easton, her ninth album recorded at the famed studio in Vermont. Guest performances on the album include Charlie Bisharat (Violin), Eugene Friesen (Cello), Nancy Rumbel (English Horn), Premik Russell-Tubbs (EWI, Soprano Saxophone), Will Ackerman (Guitar) and Tom Eaton (Bass).

Listeners can expect to be swept away by the album's emotional depth and its ability to touch the very core of the human spirit. Love Walks Through Rain is not merely an album; it is an experience that invites listeners to embrace their emotions and join Sweeten in finding solace in her music. With a career spanning over two decades, Sweeten has established herself as one of the most prominent figures in contemporary instrumental music. Her previous albums have garnered critical acclaim and earned numerous awards and accolades. "Love Walks Through Rain" builds upon Sweeten's already impressive body of work, showcasing her growth as an artist while maintaining her distinctive style.

Love Walks Through Rain is now available on all major streaming platforms and the CD can be purchased through Ann Sweeten's official website, www.annsweeten.com/ or Amazon.com. To stay updated on her latest news and upcoming performances, follow Ann Sweeten on social media: https://www.facebook.com/annsweetenfans and https://www.instagram.com/annsweeten1/