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Album Review: Breathing in the Moment
Michele McLaughlin
Cover image of the album Breathing in the Moment by Michele McLaughlin
Breathing in the Moment
Michele McLaughlin
2012 / Michele McLaughlin
55 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Breathing in the Moment is Michele McLaughlin’s “lucky 13th” solo piano CD since her 2000 debut. Most artists’ output is a reflection of themselves, but McLaughlin’s music is a vibrant and personal chronicle of her life - falling in love, visiting Ireland, Christmas, losing loved ones, divorce and healing, etc. Breathing in the Moment comes from a decision to try to live in the moment - not worrying about the past or longing for the future, but being fully present in the here and now. It sounds like an easy thing to do, but it isn’t. Several of the fifteen tracks are buoyant and joyful, but there are also sad, quiet, and poignant moments that give the album an emotional balance. McLaughlin’s playing is expressive and assured, sometimes dancing on the piano keys, sometimes mourning a great loss, but always honest and from the heart.

The title of the album and its opening track comes from a slow deep breathing technique used for centering and focusing on the moment. The gentle, easy flow of the song sets the tone of the album. “The Beauty Within” tells that there is beauty in everything, but that it isn’t always easy to see. Pensive and introspective, it’s a beauty itself! “Stargazing” is much lighter and livelier, describing the connection with a special friend. When McLaughlin composed “Cheryl’s Hope,” her intention was to write a really sad song. She succeeded well, but the song also has strong feelings of hope that spoke to her cousin - hence the title. “Sisters” is absolutely joyous with a breathless, carefree energy. “Into the Sunset” is one of my favorites. It describes flying west at sunset and watching the incredible colors in the sky. “The Life Cycle” depicts the life of a butterfly. Different musical themes seamlessly segue into each other to describe the various stages of life - a really fun piece! “Finding Balance” is another favorite. It is also built around a series of themes that work together to describe emotions and life experiences - some happy and some sad, some energetic and some quiet. Love it! I also love the intensity of “Breaking Free,” which represents the struggle to let go of negativity and to free ourselves of the the things that keep us from being truly happy - a blast to play as well as to listen to! “Nostalgia” is about allowing yourself to get lost in memories and feelings of the past, but just for a little while. Deeply emotional and a bit on the dark side, it’s gorgeous. I especially like the section where McLaughlin plays the melody with tremolo - a very effective technique for conveying the past. “The Lunar Effect” has an infectious energy combined with a hint of magic - also really fun to play! “Rejoice (Reprise)” is a new incarnation of the closing song on McLaughlin’s Out of the Darkness album. Energetic and triumphant, it’s a great ending to a great album.

Breathing in the Moment contains some of Michele McLaughlin’s best work to date and I highly recommend it. It is available from michelemclaughlin.com, and is coming soon to Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Brava, Michele!
February 6, 2012
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Kathy's Favorites: 2012