Helen Jane Long: No Identity Crisis
Helen Jane Long is an unassuming musician who makes a gentle and elegant music that might have come from another, more civil time. Her work has been used in several TV ads, including spots for the Volkswagen Passat and British Airways. She has just released her latest album, Identity.
The opening track is vintage Helen Jane Long, channeling the sound of Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” and Hans Zimmer’s “Toward the Line,” it’s a composition full of yearning and a shadow-streaked melancholy. Long falls on the neo-classical side of chamber music, not quite ambient, not full-on classical, much like Ludovico Einaudi. But unlike Einaudi, who draws upon contemporary electronics and avant-garde strategies, Long draws fully from the classical tradition. Just listen to the sweeping waltz of “Storm Away,” with strings blowing like a tall ship at full sail.
Most of Identity finds Long in an orchestral mode, but she strips herself bare on tracks like “Isolation,” a haunting, poignant composition that you might play after The Beach Boy’s “In My Room.” Similarly, “Identity,” the title track, is a piece based on a simple piano motif with tremulous sustained strings.
Helen Jane Long’s Identity is an album from someone who knows who she is as a composer. There’s no identity crisis here.