A much-used technique in literature is to make the readers keep guessing what is going to happen next. Listening to “Reflection” by Shoshana Michel, I think the same goes for her music. It makes you listen and think. As with any good author thought, there are many interesting and surprising twists and turns along the way. You’ll never guess it all. This makes the album into a very satisfying listen. “Reflection” is the best release so far in Shoshana Michel’s already strong discography.
Shoshana Michel is a classically trained pianist. Throughout the years, she has played different genres of music at different venues from ragtime at Knott’s Berry Farm to contemporary solo piano at The Galleria at South Bay in Redondo Beach, California. She recorded her first solo piano album, “Soul Whispers” in 2015. In 2016, she released “Dancing on the Wind”, her debut album as a composer followed by “Prelude to a Dream” in 2017.
A New Day Today
The album opener is called “A New Day Today”. The song is as fresh as a spring morning. Its gentle melody instantly connects with the listener. I love how it seems so light and uncomplicated, yet right under the surface is a surprising complexity. Notice how the melody rises and falls effortlessly. We should thank Michel for reminding us that today is a new day. It is easy to forget that in a world where change is something reserved for tomorrow, next month or a year from now.
There’s a lovely ambiguity to the title. Reflection is both “the throwing back by a body or surface of light, heat, or sound without absorbing it” and “serious thought or consideration”. These two elements are both present in the song “Shooting Stars”. You can see the glimpses of the stars before your inner eye and feel how the melody starts a process of thought. This truly is music for the imagination.
Soothing the Tempest Within
One of the finest pieces on the album is “Finding Bliss”. I’m always impressed with songs that balance a feeling of melancholy with happy feelings. I guess that there’s always a certain element of sadness to all feelings of bliss. Such euphoric feelings cannot last. To me, “Finding Bliss” is a small masterpiece.
At this stage the album shifts gear. “Soothing the Tempest Within” is a fascinating psychological portrait. If you listen carefully, you can almost hear the inner storm raging. Just like “Finding Bliss”, the next song, “Bittersweet”, balances two emotions splendidly. Here Michel shows her classical inspirations, such as Debussy and Ravel.
Island in the Mist
“Island in the Mist” paints a picture before your inner eye. Michel’s music is very visual. The island is almost covered in white, invisible. Each note is like a ray of light – slowly dissipating the mist. How wonderful it is! Nature also plays a vital role in the next piece, “The Moon’s Lament”. Michel shows how the Moon is looking down on Earth, seeing much pain and suffering. Listening to the song, you can’t help feeling sorry for it up there on the night sky. Seeing so much misery can’t be easy. It is a powerful piece with an important message.
Shoshana has saved some of the best songs for the last part of the album. The songs “In a Time Lapse”, “Forever and a Day” and “Labyrinth” all deal with different aspects of reflections and our perception of time. Sometimes you feel like you are “In a Time Lapse”, or totally stuck “Forever and a Day”. Both songs capture these feelings brilliantly. As a contrast to this, “Labyrinth” is about running without knowing the way or what lies ahead. There’s so much life wisdom here, each song could fill a book with stories.
The album-closer “Through the Eyes of a Child” is something entirely different. The song is light, happy and carefree. It is a much-needed reminder that we all from time to time should try to live in the presence and leave all worries behind – at least for the 3 minutes and 58 seconds of this song.
In conclusion: “Reflection” by Shoshana Michel is, simply put, a fantastic solo piano release! It is great both for active listening and as background music. “Reflection” makes you listen and think, it is offering a perfect combination of easy listening and serious pieces. As mentioned above, a reflection can be either a process of the mind or how light or sound are reflected by a surface. Michel’s album describes both splendidly. That is a major accomplishment!
Score: 94/100 – See how I rate music here
Make sure to visit shoshanamusic.com, where you can hear more of her music and purchase CDs
The latest episode of Magic Piano is dedicated to Shoshana Michel: