2022 / Michele McLaughlin Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
With Luminous, her 22nd album, pianist/composer Michele McLaughlin reveals a softer and more delicate side to her playing and composing styles. There is a poignance in several of the pieces, but, overall, the album is an expression of contentment and peacefulness that is both contagious and satisfying. The ten original piano solos are themed around different aspects of light and dark, and I think it's one of Michele's best albums yet!
Michele recorded Luminous in her home studio on her magnificent 9' Fazioli F278 concert grand piano. She utilized some of the features of her piano to change the tone and to demonstrate some of the more expressive ways it can be played. Joe Bongiorno engineered and mastered the album at his Piano Haven Studio in Sedona, AZ - always an assurance of the best possible piano sound!
Luminous begins with "Droplets of Gray," a piece Michele calls a "very rainy day kind of song." I have to agree - as I'm writing this review, it's raining on the Oregon Coast and the piece feels like the perfect accompaniment. Warm and cozy, yet somewhat melancholy, it's a beautiful start! "When You Hurt, I Hurt" was composed for a friend who was going through a very hard time. Michele improvised the piece for the friend to express her sadness and emotional connection. Gentle and very tender, it's an incredible gift! "Kaleidoscope" picks up the tempo to a lively and lighthearted expression of joy and excitement inspired by the changing colors and shapes in a kaleidoscope. "Shimmer" reflects on the quieter times when a true appreciation for the beautiful things in life can bubble up to the surface and be fully enjoyed. Very quiet and meditative, the simplicity of the piece mirrors the peaceful contentment of those moments. "Moonlit Shadows" has a slightly mysterious feeling as it describes the changing phases of the moon and the shadows it creates. "The Golden Hour" is a sweet, flowing expression of the contentment felt when the light outside is a beautiful golden yellow. I really like this one! The title track "portrays the feeling of being alive and joyful, happy and content in life. Every time I live in gratitude, I feel luminous." The music very effectively expresses this. I love the descriptive sparkle of "Fireflies," and although I've never seen them for myself, Michele's music allows me to experience their magic. Played mostly in the upper octaves of the piano, this piece is very light and fanciful. "Adrift" tells of a period of time when Michele felt lost and "adrift" musically. Sad and searching, the emotions expressed are both very real and very personal. "Lanterns In The Sky" describes the experience of a Lantern Festival "where thousands of people light paper lanterns and release them into the sky all at the same time. Standing quietly, peacefully watching them slowly float up and away into the darkness of the night." The music makes it easy to envision the flickering lights of the lanterns and their graceful, effortless path as they float skyward into the darkness.
Luminous is available from Michele's website, Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes, and streaming sites such as Spotify. Sheet music and songbooks are also available from Michele's website. Michele McLaughlin's millions of fans, old and new, will love this album!
November 6, 2022