"…filled with joy and light, but also a kind of generous spirit, like a gift."
Claire Jones, harp. Silva Screen Music, 2017
Claire Jones has much to be grateful for. Her blossoming career filled with recording and touring, the birth of her baby girl with husband, the composer/percussionist Chris Marshall, and the fact that after several years dealing with the debilitating illness Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, she is on the mend and back leading a full, healthy life. Her latest album is filled with joy and light, but also a kind of generous spirit, like a gift. Called This Love, Ms. Jones says it’s a celebration of her love for family, friends, and music, all the love that helped her during the darkest times of her illness.
The entire album is a love letter of classical and hits from the silver screen beginning with the contemplative innocence of Craig Armstrong’s Balcony Scene from “Romeo and Juliet,” where Ms. Jones gentle voice is answered by peaceful strings, as if offering blessings to these star-crossed lovers. And Chris Marshall’s ebullient arrangement of Ennio Morricone’s Cinema Paridiso; just when you thought you weren’t going to cry, they lean into the chromaticism on the chorus ever so much. Splendid!
John Williams’ Across the Stars feels like flying in zero gravity, dark, mysterious, enigmatic – while Bernstein’s Somewhere disguises itself as an art song, replete with cascading arpeggios and filigree, as if sung from the sweet hereafter. Forrest Gump’s Feather Theme by Alan Silvestri danced with a childlike purity.
It was in the classical works I found myself most interested in what Ms. Jones would do. I was grateful she left Satie alone, playing it straight. Sometimes the artistry is in keeping things simple. Jones did this perfectly forcing me to lean in and stay present for every beat of music.
Chris Marshall’s pieces are exquisite, particularly the off-beat Cariad, wistful and hopeful all at once. The swinging honky-tonk tinged Caitlin is an absolute delight. It’s the second movement from a larger work called Dylan but is a three-part stand-alone narrative of a recently sidelined harpist testing the waters with her toe, asking “Why not!?” and then taking the plunge.
Welcome back, Claire Jones!