Waking The Muse

by Michele McLaughlin

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  • Sheet Music

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credits

released May 8, 2013

REVIEW by Steve Sheppard at One World Music:
I was pleased to be able to write this review, having played a couple of tracks off this album on our Perfect Remedy show, I had been struck by its obvious beauty already and now I would be laid down in a bed of roses by this delightful, but very deeply passionate and moving album by Michele McLaughlin.

By now, dear constant reader you know I am an avid listener of the first track, for me it sets the scene or should do, so to my pleasure Michele gives us a delightfully played composition in the title track Waking the Muse, in all honesty McLaughlin doesn’t just set the bar for the rest of the album with this piece, I would go as far to say this is one of the finest pieces of this genre I have heard this year, its powerful, brimming full of passion and a muse you can feel, is just eager to break free and to fill a world devoid of creativity with an abundance of inspiration.

After such a breathtaking start the artist takes us slowly by the musical hand and leads us gently into a wonderland, in this instance the wonderland to which I refer, is a stunning track called Radiance. Once more McLaughlin gives us a sublime performance, a real gift is shown here as she plays this piece with the fervour of a grand master and the gentleness of an angel. Radiance is one of those tracks that if you were lucky enough to be seen played live, you would no doubt be up standing and applauding at the end.

I found myself deeply moved by this next piece, which could easily be part of a movie segment; it’s a track called A Beautiful Distraction and played with a very delicate hand upon the keys, but there is also a very rhythmic feel to the style performed here as well, but after it builds to what we expect to be a classically inspired crescendo, its drifts into an almost mystical ending and with great reverence finishes leaving you wanting me, a very clever composition indeed.

Spiritual Awakening had a story of its own to tell, the repetitive notes and structure at the start, begins to weave into a pattern and a tale is slowly told as the composition begins to take shape and from the slow inclinations of the narrative within the piece, I began to wonder if I could write the lyrics to this very appealing song. It clearly has a feel to it that from the darkness someone is walking into the path of light and with great confidence, one can almost feel here that a very personal experience is being played out within the music.

Next we are treated to what I like to call a Sunday afternoon piece of delightfully chilled music. Yes lazing on a Sunday afternoon is always a great hobby to have and to lay in a golden meadow, whilst listening to the tones of Humbled would be rather a pleasant experience to indulge one’s self with.

Here Michele McLaughlin delights her audience by steering the metaphorical musical boat down the river of pleasure, in a style that is so calming it’s a delight to let her steer and just let go and surrender to the melody and be truly humbled by being just part of this amazing universe.

I have mentioned to my wife from time to time my desire to go to Norway and travel the Fjords and after listening to this album, I may well place this on my iPod if we were to do this. This composition (Misty Fjords) has a very lively melody with the essence of a jig quality about it and with some very intelligent playing. Once more the musician has us travelling around those lush green misty fjords. I liked this piece, there was a whole different energy about it, an energy that raised your spirits and as such, I think this may well make its way onto one of our shows very soon.

Now it’s time for us to take a break my friends, so let’s grab a coffee and chill out to an ambient piece called, appropriately, Interlude, but if I have mislead you in thinking this piece is a mere filler then, I have wronged you, it is a charming short form composition that is perfectly placed in the centre more or less of the album and a mid way arrangement to signal the second half of the CD, that is now upon us, so let’s take our seats and enjoy.

Her hands grace the piano and one can feel a feeling that is deep, now resonating from this song. We are being lulled by a piece called Gratitude; the emotions here start to rise, as a real feeling of deep thankfulness is being exposed here, by the very skilled hands of Michele McLaughlin.
Gratitude is something we must all be thankful for in our lives and we must also be grateful for McLaughlin for bring us this intelligent and well performed track and album.

The second longest track on the release is Until we meet Again, its without doubt a delightful and tasteful harmonic melody, that had a tinge of sadness in my mind’s eye, there is an element of a passing here and a connection which is now not as much lost, but changed and within the music the artist seems to play out her memories of perhaps a loved one, as great stories tumble onto the keys, as this amazing symphony of a musical recall enchants us with gratitude, that we at least did have that relationship. This was a very telling composition and on the second half of this release we can almost feel McLaughlin baring her soul here.

The Little Red Bird, is a piece that is easy to enjoy in its simplicity, I can envision perfectly, this small Red bird jumping from branch to branch, almost as the artist plays, then the musicians realises that they have both have formed a natural correlation of a nature lead dance and as McLaughlin plays, the Little Red Bird dances to her tune.

I can really relate to this piece, as I once saw my wife play her flute while a Blackbird sat above her in a tree and once more this convergence of nature and humanity became one in a musical harmonic of balance.

The performance continues with the piece entitled Torn, after listening to this symphony of the heart, sadly I feel it’s another piece I can relate to, but this time in a more reflective and sad tinged way, I can sense a feeling of a troubled mind, a restless passage of thoughts that wrestle back and forth with a subject matter that is so hard to deal with. Torn is a very deep and emotive composition and one can not only hear, but also feel the confusion within this piece, as the heart and head try to deal with a problem that only time will ever be able to cope with, such is the nature of the ailment we call love, listen to the ending of this track, it says it all and yes, I too have felt the pains of being Torn!

I must say that after the last composition, I felt this was also related to it, musically it is moving, stirring and heart breaking and this should really be used in a moment of great poignancy in a movie, this is a beautifully played track, but be warned, have the Kleenex handy, for the way this is played, is emotive and touching, I can almost guarantee a tear will fall! Unrequited Love is a dramatic composition of an emotion I am guessing if we were all honest, we have all felt at some stage in our lives and it is through the memory of that bitter emotion, that we can allow ourselves to be immersed into this track and hopefully find some inner peace from the experience. This is my stunning composition selection from the entire album; I defy you not to be moved by this track.

I have noticed that apart from Little Red Bird, McLaughlin has shown her deeper side in the second half of this brand new album and I for one like it, she has dared to be different, she has dared to take on the hardest emotions and has no doubt derived much healing from doing so, the very last composition is a piece called Dangerous Obsession and if you ever wanted a piece filled with drama this is it. All through this song I could sense a dangerous line being walked and through it a story perhaps of an unhealthy fascination or fixation.

Here McLaughlin bravely takes on this most uncomfortable of situations and makes a musical masterpiece from it; another must listen to piece here.
That is also why Waking The Muse is a must get album, it is filled to the brim with powerful and heartfelt music, played by a musician who really is in touch with what her fans want, in touch with her own genre and with her own being. This is an album that has been created from truthful and honest feelings and as such Michele McLaughlin should be applauded for bringing this new release into the world and it will be something she can look back on in years to be proud of.

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Michele McLaughlin Salt Lake City

Michele McLaughlin is a Contemporary New Age Solo Pianist & Composer. Her solo piano music has been described as "musical storytelling" and is haunting, contagious, relaxing, beautiful, peaceful and touching. Michele performs regularly and has released fourteen albums, many of which have received multiple nominations and awards. ... more

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