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Michaela Anne (from the album Oh To Be That Free on Yep Roc Records) (by Lee Zimmerman)
Cynics might suggest that some artists make music to avoid paying for therapy, in that it allows the musician to express their heartache and uncertainty by channeling it through song. While the songs on singer/songwriter Michaela Anne’s new album — tellingly titled Oh To Be That Free — were supposedly composed prior to the traumatic experiences that she encountered later on, that feeling of tenderness and trepidation still haunts the majority of the material. It’s undeniably affecting, from the tenuous yet descriptive opening track, “I’m Only Human” and “Trees”, the reflective repast that follows, to the yearning expressed in “Who You Are”, the delicate designs of “Does It Ever Break Your Heart?”, and the sublime sweep of “If Only You Knew”. Michaela Anne has a way of evoking softer sentiments with a grace that encourages a listener to delve in deeper. While the undercurrent on uncertainty found in certain songs — “Chasing Dogs” being a more obvious example — the allure endures, and Michaela Anne’s prescient perspective serves both her and her audience well.
That said, the difficulties she had to deal with later on — caring for her mother after a debilitating stroke, the responsibilities that came with being a mother herself and trying to navigate an increasingly uncertain world — seem to haunt the album overall. Still, she doesn’t hinge her material on pity or sympathy, sharing instead emotions many of us grapple with at a time when distance and division have become increasing common. Even so, Michaela Anne’s optimism proves persistent, as the title track clearly conveys: ‘Oh to be that free again…Never looking back never looking on, It’s the only way to be’.
Granted, that may seem a somewhat naive attitude in light of the aforementioned trouble and trepidation, but to Michaela Anne’s credit, the lush melodies and quiet contemplation suggest she can balance verve and vulnerability with equal measure. ‘I want to think good people hurt good people hurt’ she coos throughout the unrelenting refrain accompanying “Good People”. As a result, for all its cautionary concerns, Oh To Be That Free remains an unexpectedly uplifting album, one that possesses both beauty and grace. Ultimately, its soothing sounds create a comforting caress, and a means by which Anne’s able to gift us all. (By Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Michaela Anne from AMAZON
For more information and purchase options, please visit the Michaela Anne website
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