is the solo piano debut by Portland, Oregon-area pianist/composer/teacher Laura McMillan. A classically-trained musician from an early age, McMillan merges her deep classical roots with a love for Broadway and an appreciation for the pianistic styles associated with the Windham Hill label. The results are a somewhat understated composing approach played with the skill and heart of someone who really knows her way around the piano. I only wish the CD was recorded a little louder because even with the volume maxed out on my CD players, the music is very quiet; I prefer it to sound more like the piano is in the same room with me. That, however, is my only criticism of Without Words
, as the music is lovely and played with expression and passion. Most of the fourteen tracks are less than three minutes long and while the mood is fairly consistent throughout, there is a very nice variety of styles.
opens with “Missing You,” a beautiful ballad that overflows with longing and love. The middle section becomes lively and upbeat and then returns to the first theme - a great beginning! “Soaring” is a lighter-than-air ode to exhilaration and feeling free. “Let It Rain” is the attitude of a true Oregonian! I’m watching it do just that as I write this review! This piece is very soft, gentle, and contented. “Shine” is one of the bigger and more energetic pieces, offering support and encouragement. I love the gentle ease of “Daydreaming” and its feelings of sweet surrender. I also especially like “Once Again,” which feels something like a heart-to-heart talk with a dear friend - open and completely honest. “Goodbye Waltz” is a slow, bittersweet farewell from a deeply emotional place within. “Time Flies” is a very aptly titled bundle of energy with a slower section in the middle that allows the subject to take a breath before resuming a frantic pace. “Too Late” is a slow, sad piece that expresses regret and comes from the heart. McMillan saved the title track for the end of the album, and it’s a real beauty! A wide range of emotions are conveyed within the piece - some that are energetic, and some that are gentle and reflective. The various themes are woven together to indicate just how much can be said “without words.”
is a great debut, and I look forward to future music from Laura McMillan. The CD and downloads are available from perhapspiano.com
, Amazon, CD Baby, and iTunes. Recommended!