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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
Other reviews from The Sounding Board by R J Lannan:
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Seasons of the Heart
By ReneƩ Michele
Label: Self Released
Seasons of the Heart tracks
1. Gratitude
2. Seasons of the Heart
3. First Promise
4. Eyes of the Soul
5. Follow Your Heart
6. Beside You
7. Heart's Embrace
8. Gone
9. Forgiveness
10. Simple Joy
More than the Blue Skirt Waltz, a Welcomed Offerin
I think one of the things that impresses me the most about Renee Michele's new album, Seasons of the Heart is the title and melody of the first solo cut. I do not think it is any coincidence that she started with the tune Gratitude. After just a few listens, I could hear the thankfulness and emotion she introduces into all of her music. The album is ten enthralling tracks of contemporary solo piano and instrumental tunes that are based on Renee's journey through an emotional life. Considering the seasons, many praise the delights of summer, but without its three well-known companions, the cycle would be incomplete. Every season offers something new, exciting and different, but they are not always happy times. Such is life.

The title tune, Seasons of the Heart lives up to its name with revealing melodic forays into the many moods and changes that the heart goes endures. The English horn courtesy of Jill Haley adds a soulful depth to the theme. The tune reminds us that with any change, painful or not, some good can be found within.

Throughout the album, the feel is one of honesty. There is a natural flow to the music, such as on the tune called First Promise. This is the spring of our youth. We build our whole emotional world around the words "I will come back", "I will be there", or "I will love you forever." Sometimes our heart is rewarded with smiles, but sometimes it is tears.

One of my favorites on the CD is called Eyes of the Soul. I have known a few who display their life's story in the gleam of their eyes. Sadness, confusion and even despair are evident in the way the eyes manage the heart. The eyes add to a smile like nothing else, but they sometimes reveal truths that even we cannot confess out loud.

Hearts Embrace is a winsome solo piano ballad that gently celebrates the turning of the page in a flourishing relationship. It is a time when a look, a smile, even a caress speaks volumes. You know you are there when words are no longer needed. In this case, music kindly bridges the gap.

I have been a purveyor of forgiveness since I was a teenager. I sought forgiveness from someone I had wronged, only to wait until it was too late. I try not to make that mistake again. In her tune, Forgiveness Renee reminds us that it is never too late to give it. It not only lightens the burden of the giver, but the recipient as well. The song features the talents of Michael Manring on bass, Charlie Bisharat on violin and Jeff Haynes on percussion.

Even though it is winter, the song Simple Joy is a reminder of all the wonderful that have occurred throughout the year and it celebrates all the seasons. The music is bright azure skies, melting icicles in the sun and crisp sound of footsteps on the snow. Spring, obviously, is not far behind.

The recording was made at Imaginary Road Studios so it has Will Ackerman's high production standards on it. He, along with Tom Eaton and Renee produced the album. Renee Michele, as a child, sang old standards, but the piano called to her and, fortunately for us, she answered with all of her heart. She is an Occupational Therapist today and frankly, I could not name any other professional who could unite the power of music and healing together and result in a little miracle. I am encouraged by this album and it makes me want to hear more.
You have to research Renee's bio a bit deeper, but all I can say is: you get the Popsicle, Renee.
Rating: Very Good   Very Good
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 7/27/2015
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