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Customer Reviews

A delicious LIFE

Michelle McLaughlin has created an album that is beautifully written and impeccably performed. The artwork is fantastic and beautifully demonstrates the color, beauty and messiness of life.

The Gift has a hopeful feeling and is a lovely way to start this record. Michelle's playing is meticulous but flows organically. Her subtle rhythmic variations keep the music fresh. The Storm starts with a subtle seriousness that seems to have the feeling of gathering clouds and a disturbed sea. The storm gathers strength throughout and gradually, peacefully resolves itself. The third track, At Home, is a warm piece that is very spacious and invokes feelings of comfort and safety. I can envision sitting by the fire with a warm cup of tea. The title track Life, presents a rhythmic insistence that points to the constant movement of life. Slowing down the pace, Belonging provides a sweet reminder of joy, connection and hope. A Deeper Understanding is both peaceful and contemplative. The piece builds to a spark of insight with the excitement of realization that gently returns us back to our introspection. Drifting Through A Dream is a hypnotic, almost trance-like waltz. Movement seems to stop while you float through this gentle world. Heartbroken is a delicate flower. It's beautifully played with gentle patience and carefully crafted emotion. Following heartbreak we have Stronger, which signals the slow but steady recovery that builds with the passage of time. Precious Memories is a beautifully gentle tune. One can almost envision opening a music box full with sweet memories and visiting each one. We approach Crossroads with the heaviness of having important decisions ahead. Guilty Pleasures is a freeing exhale, gracefully moving through tempos to invoke images of the best of indulgences. Give It Time is a patient and methodical building of strength, intensity and confidence which ends with a bold restatement of the original theme and resolved powerfully.

Michelle has crafted an exceptional work. It is an emotional journey that is complete and satisfying. There is much to enjoy here and more to discover in each listen.

Al Jewer & Andy Mitran

From MainlyPiano

"Life" is made up of highs and lows, joys and sorrows, memories, discoveries, choices, growth and even some crazy weather. Michele McLaughlin’s new album, Life, expresses it all beautifully with her inspiring positivity, resilience - AND her phenomenal piano! "Life" is her seventeenth solo piano album (not counting compilations), and I think it’s one of her best. To quote the liner notes of the CD, “Life is beautiful and colorful and full of diversity, but it is also messy and chaotic and full of imperfection.” The thirteen pieces on the album reflect on a broad range of experiences and moods, but even the darkest pieces carry a message of hope. McLaughlin always composes with honesty and a depth of emotion that make the music easily accessible to a broad range of listeners. The CD also contains a four-page booklet with the stories behind all of the pieces as well as credits. Life was recorded in McLaughlin’s home studio on her Fazioli grand piano, and was recorded and mastered by Joe Bongiorno from Piano Haven. A companion sheet music book is also available.

"Life" begins with “The Gift,” a gently energetic piece that suggests that if we see life and everything in it as gifts, we will begin to appreciate and cherish everyone and everything. Fingers dance on the piano keyboard expressing joy and a lightness of being. “The Storm” is one of my favorites. It begins in the upper half of the piano with a poignant, melancholy melody front and center. As the piece evolves, it moves around the piano, becoming more dramatic and then subsides. “At Home” is a love song paying homage to the feeling of being held by someone who loves you and makes you feel at home. Very relaxed and often very tender, it is an excellent example of what I was referring to about the emotional content of the music and how personal yet universal it is. The title track is very lively and in constant motion - another favorite. “Belonging” is very open and spare, with a simple, heartfelt melody and an even simpler accompaniment - a great example of “less is more” and how effective it can be. “Drifting Through a Dream” is also very minimalist and another favorite. The quietly rolling left hand pattern is hypnotic while the melody draws you in. “Stronger” is about getting knocked down, bouncing back and emerging stronger than ever. The piece starts out slowly, feeling very sad, and gradually lightens as it develops, expressing hope and healing. I also really like “Crossroads,” which makes the point that life is a series of decisions and choices and that we are in a constant state of crossroads. A variety of themes are woven together to depict life’s ups and downs as well as the choices we make. “Give It Time” is the closing track and it’s my favorite on the album. The piece is about the healing power of time. Very dark and passionate at the beginning, it picks up energy as it evolves and ends with a powerful bang.

Fans of Michele McLaughlin have a good reason to rejoice with the release of "Life"! If you are new to her music, this is a great place to start! Highly recommended!

Review from Journeyscapes Radio

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!

Biography

Genre: New Age

Years Active: '00s, '10s

A self-taught pianist and composer with a delicately facile style, new age keyboardist Michele McLaughlin played the instrument as a kindergartener. Inspired by a performance of George Winston's she saw at just eight years old, she applied herself to learn his tunes by ear and eventually began writing her own pieces. She released her first album, the tranquil Beginnings, in 2000. After positive feedback, she composed 16 songs in four months for her second release, Elysium. Over the next few years,...
Full Bio
Life, Michele McLaughlin
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genres: New Age, Music
  • Released: Feb 10, 2017

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