"Journeys" is the debut solo piano album by pianist/composer Michael Hagglund. The nine tracks are all originals and are some of the most relaxing piano music I’ve heard in a while. Melodic and very accessible, this is music that anyone can easily relate to because the depth and complexity comes from the emotional expression in the music, not an overabundance of notes or flashy presentation. Music like this can sometimes become trite over repeated listens, but the sincerity and honesty in this music sings true every time. The pieces are musical impressions of the kinds of “journeys” we all take as well as the thoughts and feelings we have along the way. The liner notes of the CD include a short description of the inspiration behind each piece, giving insight into where the music came from. This is a beautiful debut and I hope it’s just the beginning of great things to come from Michael Hagglund!
“Up The Hill Again” is about the magic of special memories, and this one comes from memories of the composer’s grandparents and their home, “all by itself in the woods, up on a hill.” Conveyed with childlike innocence and love, it’s a warm and welcoming opening. “First Snow” expresses the quiet beauty and crystalline chill of the first snowfall of the season and how it makes everyone feel like a kid again - gorgeous! “The Last Free Place” is about the value of freedom and parts of it are composed in a style of music often used to depict scenes of the “American wild west.” “Prayer For Peace” is a favorite. The main section is structured in the way a choir might sing a hymn - with voices in harmony creating the melody. A variation in the middle of the piece has a flowing left hand rather than blocked chords and then returns to the more hymn-like style. “Gone and Free” is another favorite and expresses the pain of losing someone along with the difficulty of letting that person go. Reflective and sad, it comes from deep within the heart. “Spring Will Come” is much lighter, offering the hope of renewal and new life as winter turns into spring. Hagglund describes the title track as “several short musical journeys that come together in the end, and find their way home.” These gentle, interwoven themes are expressed with warmth, a quiet optimism and hope, leaving the listener feeling soothed and refreshed.
Michael Hagglund is off to a great start with "Journeys" and I’m looking forward to any future projects! Recommended!