Billy Joel
Fantasies & Delusions



by Xenorazr CONTRIBUTOR (109 Reviews)
July 14th, 2011 | 5 replies

Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Joel's last effort is a classical throwback that sounds nice, but lacks personality.

When Joel concluded River of Dreams by singing "these are the last words I have to say," it was something that most of his fans could have been advised to take literally. For after his critically-divided final pop/rock album, we were left waiting eight years before he'd give us new content. And even with that in-mind, this didn't mean he'd give us more of what we'd come to expect of his well-lived musical career. Instead, Joel decided to release Fantasies & Delusions: Music for Solo Piano as what one might call the "start" of his new era. Of course, since it's been over a decade since this collection hit stores, this could also be described as the end of his studio releases altogether. And what we're left with is a long swan song of a collection, one that a few might enjoy, but most are probably advised to ignore.

The reason Fantasies & Delusions is one that even Joel's most faithful followers aren't advised to hear isn't because the music is bad. Rather, it's due to the sharp divergence from everything that he's done. As the album's subtitle alludes, the only instrument present is the piano. No vocals, no drums, no guitar; just the piano. One should also bear in-mind that this isn't a short trip. Fantasies & Delusions has no problem taking time, clocking in past the 75-minute mark. In other words: Joel has released an album that's intended for very specific audiences; especially when compared to what he'd given us since Cold Spring Harbor.

So, given that this is a long-winded collection of ten piano opuses, one still might be curious as to how it all holds up. Truth be told, it's not half bad. Granted, a key reason behind this is because Joel and performer Richard Joo are clearly paying homage and tribute to influences from music's classical days. The melodies and piano-playing we're given are nicely handled, lending a rather good level of progression for just one instrument. Some might compare it to elevator music, or think of it as little more than what an instructor would use for training piano students. However, credit at least has to be given for Joel and Joo giving us an acceptable and, all told, nicely played collection which is perfect for relaxing to.

Yet this also leads to what Fantasies & Delusions fails to accomplish: stand out. Again, technically speaking the music is fine, but there's next to no distinguishing characteristics. Even with wonderful piano melodies and tunes being the music (literally), it's simply not enough. Most listeners will likely put the album down well before the halfway mark because of how long most of the individual tracks are. In addition, it's really a challenge to make over an hour of piano-only instrumental pieces feel differentiated from each other. Unfortunately, it's tough to say that Fantasies & Delusions overcomes this task. The opuses are very similarly played which, although lending to a nice flow throughout, means it all goes together too well. And for a release this long, that's not going to leave a positive impression on listeners.

Some might argue that River of Dreams is Joel's last true studio album. And while it's definitely his pop/rock closing, we still have Fantasies & Delusions as being among his collection. As said, this album is bound to leave many of his fans feeling sour; especially if they go in expecting more of the same. But if one can open their tastes for something notably different and very classically-oriented, then this isn't a bad release to appreciate for what else Joel has strived towards. Fantasies & Delusions really does have a nice, beautiful sound to it in many places, but it has little to no personality to help it stand, even in an empty field.

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user ratings (21)

Comments:Add a Comment 
Contributing Reviewer
July 14th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

It is finished.

But for some reason it's showing up as a separate album even though I selected "Fantasies & Delusions" from the drop-down menu when I hit "Add a Review" on Joel's page. Fix please?

Staff Reviewer
July 14th 2011


Their are two albums for this album
You want the other one

Digging: Julien Baker - Turn Out The Lights

July 14th 2011


not his fault, its an album error.
Nice conclusion to the discography. Pos'd

Contributing Reviewer
July 14th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

There we go. Thank you, mods.

February 16th 2016


Album Rating: 2.5

I would have much more preferred an album of instrumentals and piano pieces along the line of Nocturne, Root Beer Rag, or The Mexican Connection.....this stuff I just can't get into.

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