Life by Michele McLaughlin
I have been following the musical pathway of Michele McLaughlin ever since the release of her album Breathing In The Moment back in 2012, she has such a beautiful way of storytelling through music and this new release called Life is no exception to that rule, in fact over the years that have passed, that process and has been greatly enhanced.
With the opening piece one can see that this album is another forward step in the musical life path of McLaughlin, and as we go through the project we will wander through a veritable wonderland of classy compositions. The Gift, our gentle opener, is a fine example, it is our gift and this light filled piece glistens in the dark to lighten our way as it ushers us into the gateway of the album.
I was only talking the other week to David Lanz about his track The Approaching Storm and how to create that build up and suspense and manifest that crackling tension, he has done it well on his release and here McLaughlin builds something that may not just be a storm of the weather variety, each and every one of us have to walk through a personal life storm at some stage, and that sense of trepidation and passion can be felt right here on this very emotive arrangement, The Storm.
I have many favourites on this quite breath-taking release and this one is one of them and called At Home. McLaughlin creates for me a warm homely feel whilst watching the world drift past outside, but there is much more within the weave of this track, perhaps this is a little oasis, a musical sanctuary being portrayed here. Once more the artist hits the emotional heart strings with a really delicate and resonating composition.
The title track is up next, a moment to flourish perhaps for the musician? Life is a piece that has a great colour about its construction. I adore the motif in this track, it’s always evolving and recreating itself and the outcome is both confident and grand. There is also a layer of sensitivity about its build too, and here we see the narrative driven style of McLaughlin in full effect, what an incredible and very memorable composition this was.
That reflection continues in a more gentle way now with the song Belonging. There is something very familiar about this track that I cannot at this moment put my finger on, but it is most pleasing. McLaughlin allows this piece to grow naturally and in doing so she has created something quite charming.
Another one of my personal favourites now, with the piece A Deeper Understanding: it’s quite clear that Michele McLaughlin has created with this release something deeply special and this track at the half way juncture emphasises that raising of the musical bar, there is a smooth level of confidence and creativity here that can not only be heard, it can be felt too.
As we now slip into the loving arms of the latter half of the album we come across a real gem called Drifting Through A Dream. I awoke with the craziness of dreams in my head in the early hours today, and this music would have been a perfect soundtrack for that moment. The performance here is sublime, the clever changes and patterns McLaughlin weaves here creates a really mist filled but beautifully layered composition.
One of the darker tracks off the album is Heartbroken: it pulls at the emotions that many of us have gone through. As the artist plays, one can almost feel the memories and emotions flooding forward, in a cinematic rolling style of musical images and then as the credits roll, all that is left is emptiness, until the very last note, if a note had a word, it would be called hope.
I must say I am thoroughly enjoying this journey through Life, the release created for us by Michele McLaughlin, and I hope you are as well dear reader and listener. The narrative continues with a piece called Stronger, which is perfectly placed after the last offering and within the tale told and the performance played, we can indeed feel that confidence about life coming back, as we get Stronger.
The delicacy on this next composition is delightful, it’s called Precious Memories. There is real warmth to the style here that is greatly appreciated. McLaughlin’s performance here is stunning, she manifests a confident and flowing track that has such a powerful, yet restrained arrangement, which changes and alters with a growing sense of personal triumph of a special moment; note both the gentle, yet assured mix in this piece.
Crossroads is a popular theme at the moment, and of course somewhere we all have been at some stage. This is one of those pieces that will sit in your mind and you may even find yourself whistling or humming it. The performance has a little classical mixed in, with an almost movie styled arrangement. The minor nature of the piece, mixed with the driving narrative on notes, is simply brilliant. In my view one of the cleverest and insightful tracks on the album, so now you’re at the Crossroads, which way are you going to go?
I love this title, I have many, and if you’re honest too so do you dear reader, and it’s called Guilty Pleasures, our penultimate track off this quite brilliant album. A simple piece that has a real element of happiness built within it, and also a little sense of guilt too, which seems to play back and forth. The tempo and pace here alternates with a wonderful sense of energy, each moment of construction on this album has been created with such care and attention, that goes for this piece as well.
Our very last port of call is called Give it Time. In life one thing is certain, change, here on this album and with this track McLaughlin confronts that and once more the narrative flows back and forth, almost as if it is questioning itself, then reaffirming the answer. We have to also say that the artist leaves the album with a flourish on this piece, this is one very stylish and empowering way to leave what has been a fantastic journey of musical magic from the hands, heart and mind of Michele McLaughlin.
Life is an ever changing sphere, and on this album, the artist has not only created something deeply moving and special, McLaughlin has re-written the book on musical storytelling and narration and raised her own personal bar higher than ever expected, a truly stunning release that is utterly recommended.