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  • Jonathan Widran

CAROL ALBERT, Stronger Now

From the get go on her latest, perfectly titled album Stronger Now, pianist/composer Carol Albert takes us on a soaring, optimistic journey reflective of the own spiritual/emotional breakthroughs she has made in the wake of great personal loss. She sets the gorgeous, sweeping piano melody aflight on the wings of lush orchestration on “Stronger Now,” then seals the deal with our hearts by introducing beautiful wordless vocals on the likewise infectious “Love Again.”

Most artists in the smooth jazz genre just want to get us grooving and singing along, but this is music with a purpose to reveal, unravel and inspire. Emerging as a force in the genre these past few years after a well-established career as a new age artist and TV/film composer, Albert has been all over the Billboard charts these past few years with radio hits like “Chasing Waterfalls,” “Fly Away Butterfly,” and, from this new collection, the Rio-tinged “Femme Flight” (with flutist Ragan Whiteside and saxophonist Magdalena Chovancova) and the bright and dreamy Latin-spiced “Sun’s Out.”

Engaging as they are, her hits only scratch the surface of the trajectory she’s courageously treated her fans from Fly Away Butterfly to Stronger Now. Written and recorded in the period after the sudden death of her husband, the first album reflects all of the attending emotions and a struggle to get through. The music on Stronger Now generally reflects a more buoyant spirit set free from pain, and she gets right to the point by detailing the terrain and declaring on one of the collection’s most affecting tracks, “I Am Fine.”

While Albert has traditionally been a self-contained artist, her success with “Femme Flight” inspired her to tap Paul Brown, who mixed that track, to produce a total of five tracks. The vibe she creates with Brown and his crew of inventive L.A. “cats” should keep the chart hits and radio love flowing throughout the next year.

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