Friday, November 25, 2022

Luminous By Michele McLaughlin




Michele McLaughlin

Written by

Steve Sheppard


Michele McLaughlin has been on my musical radar now for so long, in fact it scared me when I looked back to find out that over 20 years had passed since I first came into contact with her, through the release of Beginnings, an appropriate name indeed, now 22 years later comes one of the most gentle and soothing musical narratives ever from the artist, and entitled Luminous.

Droplets of Gray is our first port of call on this brand new release and it is without doubt one of the most serene pieces I think I have heard from Michele, this calming, yet reflective opener, is a powerfully moving performance by the artist, and sets the scene brilliantly for what is to come.

The sensitivity of this next track is beyond a tender touch, When You Hurt I Hurt is simply beautiful, deeply mournful, but in a caring way, the piano presentation by McLaughlin here is a sublime example of how to express your most sincere emotions through music.

I adored the rhythm and flow of this piece; I cheerfully shone with happiness whilst listening to Kaleidoscope, I will regard this as a clever and creative arrangement by the artist, as she manifests both movement and positivity within an almost childlike energy of innocent fun.

We can relax now in the arms of this next gentle composition entitled Shimmer, I have had many moments by lakes and rivers where this offering would have been the perfect idyllic accompaniment. Michele’s slow, respectful, but purposeful playing, gifts us a true sun kissed moment of grandeur within music to enjoy, now and forever.

I must admit to being deeply impressed by her switching from the reverie of the last piece to the darker realms of this new creation called Moonlit Shadows. This would be one of my personal favourites from the album; throughout this entire release it is as if we are playing from darkness into light, and this piece is a fine example, powerful emotive, and very expressive.

The second half of the album has now been breached, and as we do so we arrive at the charming musical narrative of The Golden Hour. For some reason I found a well of emotion here I did not expect, the tone and timbre took me back to my childhood memories of my somewhat confusing relationship with my mother, for me there was a certain warmth here that reminded of the better days we shared, in a wonderfully flowing, heartfelt creation.

Luminous being the title track is now centre stage, the brightness and higher notes here really emphasises just what an accomplished pianist McLaughlin is, and this track is the ever growing and expanding reality of crafted genius that we see and hear before us, the energy here, whilst slightly reflective, is almost triumphant, but the mixture of the two essences is simply sublime.

As we move towards the deeper waters of the release we come across a mysterious opus of wonderment entitled Fireflies, I have seen these blissful creatures, and this music would perfectly represent them and their dance like, almost waltz like movement, within late evening summer time memories of days gone by.

The penultimate offering from the album is entitled Adrift, It must be said this is one of the most ambient performances I have heard from the artist, but one that creates a wonderfully gentle melody, and a slow almost circular journey, almost like floating, lost on a beautiful lapis sea, far away from all, Adrift!

The last piece is a creative slice of genius, and a superb way to conclude the album; it is called Lanterns in the Sky, and may well be one of my personal favourites from the artist yet. Here we have an anthem like ending of brilliance, one that flows like a mountain stream in early spring.  The fluency here is stunning and mesmerizing, and what a conclusion to a splendid album indeed.

Luminous by Michele McLaughlin in my view, is the best work of the artist thus far, I don’t say that lightly, as she has produced some amazing albums over the last 20 odd years, but for me the musician has manifested a sensitivity here that is beyond all that she has created before, and it has worked like absolute magic. Luminous by Michele McLaughlin is an album that every lover of any piano genre must simply have; missing out on an album of this quality would be like missing out on Christmas entirely!

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