Saturday, September 21, 2019

Album Review: Memoirs by Michele McLaughlin

Michele McLaughlin is a highly-accomplished and much sought after pianist and composer who’s built up a dedicated fan following over the span of her career. Possessing a true gift for composition and melody, she never actually learned to read music, instead being entirely self-taught on the piano while expressing an inborn talent for songwriting. Relaying her signature-style narrative of instrumental storytelling, Memoirs is a collection of 12 solo piano singles that were compiled over a timespan of many months. Riding along a similar thought train as her 2017 album Life, here we are familiarly guided through a range of emotions and observations, yet seemingly overall reassured by a sense of hope and comfort, which comes with every unpredictable twist and turn along the way.

“Thankful” cheerfully opens the album with a lightly galloping flair and upwards lilt of the melody. Following next is “Pure Joy”, a calmer yet equally optimistic piece that evokes morning sunshine and warmth. Slipping into a more nocturnally contemplative mood, “Dark Moon” boldly descends into the lower registers. Its solemn atmosphere suggests a meaning that is both figurative and literal, especially given that it precedes a piece called “Triumph”.

One particular highlight of the album is “Beneath the Surface”, a piece that blooms robustly with alternating major and minor keystrokes. Once again infusing meaning with metaphor, images come to mind of sailing on tumultuous seas while remaining steadfast and determined throughout the storm.

Two other personal favorites include the album’s back-to-back pair of winter-themed songs, as is often the case with compositions inspired by the coldest season. The serenely reflective “Winter” evokes a feeling of quaint nostalgia while painting a picturesque scenery of snow lightly falling upon a rural northern landscape. Likewise, “Northern Lights” portrays a beautiful winterscape, as cycling notes and winding course convey a journey across snowy terrain.

“Dismissed” aptly closes the curtains in starkly dramatic fashion. Showcasing McLaughlan’s fierce command of the keys, this striking number powerfully flows like raging rapids until gradually winding down to a close.

Beautifully turning its musical pages like a personal diary of memories and musings, Memoirs is undoubtably another thoroughly rewarding offering from one of solo piano’s leading figures in the scene! ~Candice Michelle

For more information please visit the artist's website. This album is also available at Amazon, iTunes and other music retailer & streaming platforms.