B.J. Cole

Heart of the Moment

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    8
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Performed with the help of the Transparent Music Ensemble, featuring keyboardist/collaborator Guy Jackson and so named because of previous work on B.J. Cole's album of that name, Heart of the Moment shows Cole creating a fine recording as noteworthy as his many session appearances. Unlike any number of studio musician projects that consist of little more than cold, clean, and cloying results, Cole actually sounds like he has something to perform that isn't motivated by a paycheck. The majority of pieces are written by Cole and Jackson together, and the two make for an excellent team, the former's exquisite steel guitar lines blending well with the latter's piano and synth work. As a whole, the album is relaxing mood music but not simply background new age -- sleepy smooth jazz this isn't, though on "Eastern Cool" Jackson's keyboard sounds are inexplicably cheap and cheesy. Though having said that, it might be Cole feeding his guitar through the MIDI controller listed in the credits -- too bad the end result doesn't succeed as it should. The core country element of Cole's playing always lends a subtle bite to the proceedings, while the equally prevalent hints of Hawaiian guitar and other influences add to the overall effect. The sense is always of a thorough student of the instrument who wants to do much more than simply make "that" sound when needed. One of the early highlights is "Icarus Enigma," a guitar/piano duet that adds enough understated touches in the mix to make it seem like something David Sylvian could have done on Gone to Earth. Cellist Ben Davies adds lovely work throughout the album -- "Indian Willow" is a fine example of how he can add to the proceedings -- while guest performers on percussion, further strings, and (on "Forever Amber") Chinese flute all make their mark well.

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