Michele McLaughlin is a self-taught pianist and composer with a remarkably impressive recording catalog that includes both Billboard charting and multiple award-winning albums. Having recently had the pleasure of meeting Michele at a performance in my area, I found her demeanor to be warm and personal, as she shared inspiring personal stories behind various compositions, which were often laced with a good dose of humor and related via captivating storytelling. On her latest album, simply titled Life, Michele perfectly captures a compelling range of dynamic expression and quieter introspection throughout its thirteen beautiful compositions of contemporary solo piano arrangements, which often bear an intrinsically classical elegance throughout.

The album opens with “The Gift”, a briskly flowing and positively upbeat composition that boasts a brightly colorful melody along a lightly galloping stanza. This expressive and lively mood is somewhat contrasted by “The Storm”, a slightly darker piece with a brooding undercurrent, perhaps dually representing both a literal and metaphorical storm of inner struggle and turmoil. “At Home” is a comparatively tenderer, leisurely-paced number which seemingly speaks of the comfort that a safe and secure home brings, even recalling that of being gently tucked into bed at night as a child. I’m also especially fond of the title track, “Life”, in which a cascading, hurried stanza alternates with a boldly expressive melody in a constantly forward motion. “Drifting Through A Dream” is perhaps my favorite piece on the album that beautifully drifts upon a mesmeric, repeating signature throughout. Gently understated with a touch of nostalgia and wistfulness, it aptly conveys the notion of being in a dreamlike haze as recollected memories gently fade in and out. “Heartbroken” is a delicately melancholic piece that perfectly captures the fragility of the emotional heart itself. The mournful overtone of this piece is aptly followed by the more affirmative “Stronger”, which gradually unfolds like a butterfly slowly emerging from its cocoon that will go on to experience life from an entirely new perspective. Another personal favorite is “Crossroads”, a somewhat pensive number that seems to suggest that of arriving at a fork in the road while contemplating which path to follow. Wrapping up the album is “Give It Time”, a dramatically bolder piece of starker contrasts that conveys an affirming message of patience and resolve.

Described as an album “about life’s dichotomies… balance and disorder, light and dark, ups and downs, joys and sorrow, peace and turbulence, hope and despair, and so on”, Life is a remarkable aural painting of an artist’s personal journey and finding one’s place in this often chaotic world. Ranging from dynamic and highly expressive to softer, subtler nuances, Michele’s hands are in constant, flowing movement across the keys, as she seemingly shifts through the registers with remarkable ease and effortlessness. Unquestionably born a natural pianist-composer, there’s an inherent emotional depth to her compositions, as she imprints each one with a signature sound that is distinctive and individualistic to her spirit. It’s certainly no wonder this amazing artist has built up a loyal following of listeners, and the beautiful complexity that is Life is sure to further affirm her place as one of today’s premier and outstanding contemporary solo pianists! ~Candice Michelle

Links & Purchase: Michele McLaughlin, Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby

Comments

March 16, 2017 @01:18 pm
THANK YOU!! I am so thrilled you enjoyed my album. I hope your readers and your listeners enjoy it as well. Many thanks and much gratitude to you!!
Michele McLaughlin

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