MICHAELA MCCLAIN-THE STORY SO FAR.

MICHAELA MCCLAIN-THE STORY SO FAR.

Recently, I came across one of the most talented singer, songwriters and musicians I’ve heard in a long time. Her name is Michaela McClain, who released her debut single Needed More in March 2012, with her sophomore single Ur Love following later in March 2012. After that, Michaela headed to Dallas, Texas, in April 2012, where she recorded her first E.P. The Dallas Sessions, which feature seven original songs, written by Michaela. Having finished The Dallas Sessions, Michaela and her tight, talented band, were honing their live show. Whilst playing concerts each month, Michaela and her band were working on her second E.P. The Manhattan Sessions, which was released in December 2012. Before I tell you about Michaela McClain’s music, I’ll tell you more about Michaela and her career so far.

Ever since Michaela McClain has been four, she’s been singing. It’s as if she was born to sing. She and her five sisters, of which Michaela is the youngest, all love music. Their love of music stems from watching their father play guitar. Since then, music has been a constant in Michaela’s life. She has an eclectic taste in music, enjoying the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Carlos Joim, Jimi Hendrix and The Indigo Girls just as much as bossa nova, soulful jazz or vocal harmonies. While music provided a soundtrack to Michaela’s life, learning to play guitar was the first step in her musical career.

Having learnt to play three chords on her guitar, Michaela wrote her first song when she was just fourteen. For Michaela, this opened up a new world for her. She was able to express how she felt about the world and life. What she saw around her and what was going on in her life inspired her to write songs. It allowed her to express her feelings, and was what she enjoyed doing most. So, it’s no surprise that Michaela McClain would form a band.

It was in college that Michaela finally decided to form her own band. She’d been singing for a few years, but the next step was putting a band together. The first member of her band was the talented, multi-instrumentalist Meredith Foreman. Meredith plays drums, flute, saxophone and sings backing vocals. Next to join was bassist Raul Huaman, who temporarily, doubles up as guitarist. Raul is an MSU alum, and brings to the band a jazz and Peruvian influence. With her band in place, Meredith began playing live. Having honed their live sound, and established a set-list of songs written by Michaela, the next step was recording her debut single.

Michaela recorded and then released her debut single Needed More in March 2012. Her sophomore single Ur Love, was released later in March 2012. Then, just a month later, Michaela and her band headed on a cross country road trip. Their destination was Dallas, Texas.

At Michaela’s uncle’s studio in Texas, they recorded seven songs written by Michaela. These seven tracks became The Dallas Sessions, which were released in July 2012. Whilst in Dallas, Michaela and her band were honing their live sound and playing live. At the same time, Michaela was working on new songs. This meant another road trip.

From Dallas, they headed to New York. In New York, they recorded three new songs, and gave Somber Colors a makeover. These four new songs became The Manhattan Sessions, which were released in December 2012. Since then, Michaela and her band have been regularly performing live. Now Michaela has returned to teaching music, whilst waiting for her commercial breakthrough which hopefully, will come soon. Listening to her music, which I’ll tell now tell you about, that won’t be long.

Needed More was Michaela McClain’s debut single released, back in March 2012. It swings into life, with just Michaela accompanied by a tambourine. Her vocal is jazz-tinged, reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald. When a piano enters, it’s the perfect accompaniment for Michaela’s tender, heartfelt vocal. Tinged with regret and hurt, backing vocalists accompany her, as she delivers the lyrics about a walking out on a relationship. Filled with meaning and emotion, it’s as if this song as personal. Later, Raul adds a searing, crystalline guitar solo. Then when Michaela’s rueful vocal returns, it’s softer, soaring soulfully and sweetly. It’s filled with emotion and maybe, regrets.

Ur Luv was Michaela’s second single, and has a very different sound. It’s a much more understated track. There’s a folk influence, with just an acoustic guitar strummed confidenly accompanying Michaela. Her vocal is tender, filled with sincerity and beauty. Although just short of two minutes long, they’re two beautiful and memorable minutes, and being in love and wanting to spend time with someone.

Having released two singles in March 2012, Michaela and her band embarked on a road trip to Dallas. In Dallas, seven songs Michaela wrote were recorded, then in July 2012, were released as The Dallas Sessions.

THE DALLAS SESSIONS.

When I first heard More Like Love, I heard similarities with Scottish singer-songwriter Carol Laula. Both have charismatic, voices and are versatile vocalists. Here, Michaela and her tight band mix elements of folk, jazz and rock. The upbeat, jaunty arrangement features piano, bass and drums. They set the scene for Michaela as her vocal grows in power and joy. Cooing harmonies sweep in, enveloping Michaela’s vocal, as she delivers the song with a swing, whilst bringing life and meaning to the lyrics.

Somber Colors is breakup song, where Michaela unleashes an urgent, punchy and angry vocal. The lyrics are delivered stridently and powerfully, showing another side to Michaela. Whereas other tracks were acoustic, Michaela and her band plug in and and kick loose. They demonstrate their versatility on this rockier track. Stabs of searing guitar reflect the frustration in Michaela’s vocal, while drums reflect her disappointment in her ex-boyfriend. Every step of the way, the band match Michaela for sheer passion. Raul unleashes another soaring solo, while guitars and drums accompany Michaela. Later, her voice a mixture of anger, frustration and disappointment, she sings: you had, your chance, to prove your love to me.” Not only does this track show how versatile Michaela is, but reinforces her talent as a singer-songwriter.

Fireworks sees a slow, moody bass, reverberating guitar and violin combine, setting the scene for Michaela. As the pensive, wistful arrangement unfolds, Michaela’s emotive, deliberate and needy vocal enters. She delivers each word with feeling and longing. Guitar chime, the bass prowls and backing vocalists sweep in. They unite as one with Michaela’s ethereal, tender vocal.

No Amount is an understated, acoustic song. It allows Michaela’s heartbroken vocal to take centre-stage. Her vocal becomes the focus of your attention as she sings “no amount of cigarettes, no amount of beer, no amount of tears, can bring you back here.” Her voice is wistful, filled with sadness and longing. Adding to the melancholy, wistful sound, are the acoustic guitar and piano that accompany Michaela. They play their part in a heartbreakingly sad, but very beautiful song, where Michaela reminds me of Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro.

He Loves Me, is a love song where a combination of musical influences unite. There’s elements of folk, country and sometimes, jazz. Again, the acoustic arrangement has an understated sound. Michaela’s vocal is confident and joyous, sounding like someone whose deeply in love. Just An acoustic guitar, bass and keyboards accompany Michaela. Like Needed More, Michaela makes the song swing, injecting some of her hope and happiness into it. The result is a joyous, uplifting, love song with some great lyrics.

Sun On My Skin demonstrates how a talented songwriter can find beauty in even the most everyday, mundane thing. Perceptively, Michaela manages to make something everyone takes for granted into something quite beautiful. A shuffling bossa nova beat provides the backdrop for Michaela’s vocal. They’re joined by a strummed acoustic guitar, percussion and keyboards, which provide a subtle accompaniment for Michaela’s ethereal vocal. Gratitude, joy and wonderment fill her voice, as she delivers  descriptive, perceptive and evocative describe the lyrics. She paints pictures before your eyes, while her delivery is heartfelt and tender, but filled with sincerity.

Too Bad sees Michaela and her band return to their rocky side. The rhythm section drive the arrangement along, before it’s all change, as the arrangement almost pauses. Then a piano and handclaps accompany Michaela’s punchy, vocal, while guitar fills and pounding drums enter. It seems the band are gaining their earlier momentum, and enjoying rocking out. By now, Michaela is scatting her way through the track, handclaps and harmonies punctuating the arrangement. Then when her vocal drops out, the guitar takes center-stage. When Michaela returns, it’s as if she’s been reenergized and finding her inner rock chick, kicks loose, to close The Dallas Sessions on rock-tinged high.

THE MANHATTAN SESSIONS.

Cold Hearts is a piano lead track, with a jaunty arrangement. Here, Micahaela lays bare her soul, delivering a hurt-filled vocal that’ss filled with emotion and pain. It’s another relationship song, where Michaela’s ethereal, heartbroken vocal is filled with heartache and hurt, at what seems like the inevitable end of her relationship. Cymbals crash adding to the drama, while a crystalline guitar wanders in and out of the arrangement. Keyboards provide the jaunty backdrop for the arrangement, while backing vocalists sweep in. It’s as if they empathize and sympathise with Michaela and her plight, as she lays bare her hurt and heartache for all to hear.

Better Than Fine has some of the best lyrics The Manhattan Session. Guitars and slow, deliberate drums accompany Michaela’s deliberate, frustrated vocal. She’s frustrated and angry at living with someone who has a destructive, addictive personality. Her delivery of the lyrics are like a woman who just can’t take any more. Regardless of what she does or has done, the situation never improves. Adding to the drama are an alto saxophone and searing, riffing guitar. Eventually, it’s as if Michaela is spent, exhausted physically and mentally at the situation and torment she’s lived with. Now having told her partner how she feels, this proves overwhelming and cathartic.

Singin’ is another track with an understated, acoustic arrangement This really suits the the lyrics and Michaela’s delivery of them. She delivers them with equal parts passion, emotion and joy. Accompanying her are just a confidently strummed acoustic guitar and percussion. When her vocal grows in power, Michaela’s voice veers between a warmth and ethereal quality. Backing vocalists accompany her, as she scats her way through the track. Her vocal grows in power and passion and conviction, as handclaps and backing vocalists accompany her, as this infectiously catchy, hook-laden tracks comes to a rousing close.

The other track on The Manhattan Sessions was Somber Colors, which featured on The Dallas Sessions. It’s delivered with the same emotion, frustration and anger as on The Dallas Sessions. Like other tracks, Somber Colors features some powerful lyrics, with a strong narrative. This demonstrates just how talented and songwriter and storyteller Michaela is. She’s a storyteller who can paint vivid pictures with music. Whether it’s songs about relationships, full of heartache and hurt, or songs about being in love Michaela breathes life and meaning into them. She sounds as if she’s lived and survived these songs. Then on Sun On My Skin, Michaela finds beauty and inspiration in a sunny day. Having written such meaningful, intelligent and poignant lyrics, Michaela and her band bring the lyrics to life. 

On her two singles, The Dallas Sessions and then The Manhattan Session, Michaela and her band fuse musical influences and genres. Folk, jazz, country, rock and bossa nova can all be heard in Michaela’s music. Listen carefully, and Michaela’s voice and delivery is similar to Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro, Carol Laula and Ella Fitzgerald. With a tight, multitalented band accompanying Michaela, seamlessly she can switch between folk, jazz, country and sometimes, when Michaela and her band kick loose, she finds her inner rock chic. Regardless of what style of music, Michaela McClain and her band play with passion, panache and style.

Listening to Michaela McClain’s music was refreshing for me. This is music old school. Indeed, nowadays when many independent musicians work with computer programs like Logic, Pro-Tools, Reason and Ableton Live, using loops rather musicians, Michaela has reversed this trend. Instead, Michaela headed to a recording studio with her band of tight, talented musicians. The result was music just like Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro would produce. For me, this has been a really welcome departure. Instead of the usual Nu-Soul warbler, using a copy of Logic and loops, Michaela McClain’s music is old-school music, from an old-school singer, songwriter and musician. Michaela writes intelligent music, music that’s filled with emotion, heartbreak and joy. You won’t hear Michaela deliver anything  mundane, trite or vacuous. Instead, Michaella writes intelligent lyrics, which vividly paint pictures.  Michaela McClain has restored my faith in music. Music is in safe hands, with singers like Michaela McClain. Quite simply, they’re the future of music. That’s why, in the future, people will hear much, much more of Michaela McClain. Quite simply, Michaela McClain has a big future ahead of her in music. It won’t be long until record companies start to take an interest in Michaela McClain and her music. Her two singles, plus the music on The Dallas Sessions and The Manhattan Sessions, prove that the multitalented singer, songwriter and musician Michaela McClain has a big future ahead of her. 

MICHAELA MCCLAIN-THE STORY SO FAR.

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2 Comments

  1. Brigid

    I totally agree, Derek! Michaela is spectacular! Great article, and you have fantastic taste in music! :)

    • Hi Brigid,

      Thanks for your comments about Michaela. She has a really big future ahead of her and I’m sure it won’t be long until she gets a record deal.

      Best Wishes,
      Derek

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