is pianist/composer Michele McLaughlin’s ninth album to date and contains an assortment of fourteen original piano solos that were inspired by major events and the special people of everyday life. A mostly self-taught pianist who quit piano lessons when they took the fun out of playing, McLaughlin has an energetic and often dramatic style that indicates how personal this music is to her. Her melodies are always interesting and engaging and range in mood from quiet calm to rather turbulent.
begins with “When You Were Still Around,” a piece begun as a memorial for McLaughlin’s recently-deceased grandfather and mother. When her grandmother passed away this past spring, McLaughlin was asked to play for her funeral and decided to finish this piece. Along with a sense of loss, the piece also conveys hope and the comfort of happy memories. “Drifting Through Antiquity” has a melodramatic, old-world charm, and was inspired by McLaughlin’s honeymoon in Greece and Italy. “Music Box Angel” has a hauntingly beautiful melody, but the left hand plays the same three notes for the whole piece. It can probably be argued that the bass part in a music box is very repetitious, which it is, but I’ve never seen or heard a music box that can play at the exact same speed for more than four minutes. To me, the left hand is too mechanical and detracts from the lovely, flowing melody on the right hand. “The Eternal City” was composed after a short visit to Rome. One of my favorites on the CD, this piece has a strong energy and sense of movement - almost a dance. The right hand has several cross-overs into the deep bass that heighten the drama. “Brandon’s Song” is a sweet love song to a beloved son. “Learning To Fly” is another favorite. Visualizing the struggles of a young bird being coaxed to leave the nest during a nasty storm and its struggles to succeed in order to please its parents, McLaughlin has set to music the challenges of overcoming our own fears and also of parenthood. I like the energy and passion of this piece a lot. “Palamidi Fortress” is a bold, dramatic piece inspired by a castle on a hill in Greece that was made up of five smaller fortresses so that if one was attacked the others could defend the castle as a whole. Conveying strength as well as vulnerability and beauty, this is a powerful piece. “A Sad and Sorrowful Goodbye” is about loss and the difficulty of saying “goodbye” to someone you love. Graceful and expressive, it’s a very touching piece. “Dream Come True” is about the happiness gained by following our dreams and reaching for the stars.
is a charming collection of biographical piano solos. Look for it at michelemclaughlin.com