Michele McLaughlin – LIFE: When I first wrote about Michele’s wonderful solo piano work in issue # 152, one of things noted was that she plays all her compositions with “high-spirit joy”, and that holds even more true on her upcoming February 2017 release… your heart and soul will definitely be buoyed up by her all-original (and self-taught) talent; that is especially true on pieces like “Crossroads“, where she uses forceful strokes to paint pictures of choices made and to be made… many pianists try and capture these moments sonically, but Michele is one of the few who does it in a way that makes the listener realize that she is talking to them!
Another song that emphasizes the resilient spirit we all have (if only we would realize and take advantage of it) is “Stronger“… this piece isn’t quite what you would think, either… I had visions of “heavy” tones to highlight that strength, but what she does with it is full of power, without being overbearing… it’s easy to feel how important it is to pick yourself up and move on when listening to this wonderful piece of music.
There are many other artists who try for this “off-the-cuff” improvisational style, but don’t really understand how important it is to “just be yourself”, and that’s (in my mind, anyway) what Michele really has going for her… she’s able to give you inner parts of her persona without “trying” to do that… just listen to the opener, “The Gift“, and you will quickly realize what I mean… you will come away from this song knowing that you need to cherish every experience, every person & every moment of your life as something presented to you. I would most strongly recommend that you reserve a full hour of listening time, and do it with your headphones on, so you can capture all Michele is telling you through her masterful playing.
Of the thirteen experiences offered up, it was the closer, “Give It Time“, that spoke to me most powerfully… I’ve no doubt you will be hitting the “repeat” button on this one often… it is (already) my personal favorite solo piano piece (yet) for 2017! I feel privileged to have made Michele’s acquaintance, and am deeply grateful for the opportunity to review her most accomplished work to date. I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of a (perfect) 5.00; meaning that she also gets a “PICK” for “most expressive solo piano”. Get more information about her on the Michele McLaughlin website (and tell her you read about this album here, please). Rotcod Zzaj