I’m at the point where I’m tired but I’m not. You know what I mean, right? I should really start winding down with a book in bed but my mind is telling me that I still have enough energy to do another review. Who am I to fight with my mind when it’s telling me to check out some new music but I figured I’d find something more calming to try and help wind myself down for the night. Paul Michell’s ‘Break The Fall’ has been sitting on my desk for years but it has just never made it into the stereo. Although I’m intrigued by the cover of this album as it doesn’t lead onto what this album could bring, the back shows Paul standing next to a grand piano. As a pianist, I love piano music but it always puts me in a cozy mood that makes me ready for bed and I just haven’t been ready for a soundtrack like that… until now. So let’s see what Paul Michell is all about, shall we?
Welp, my assumption based on the back of this album is clearly off but, just seconds into “Fire” and I was in love. I’m not sure how but Paul has somehow mixed orchestral music with pop music all while having an almost electronic and dance vibe to it. This opening track was an instant favorite of mine. It has a driving beat that, although not calming me down for sleep, had me smiling from ear to ear. I couldn’t help but join in on the clapping parts (just listen and I’m sure you’ll find yourself clapping along as well).
I finally caught wind of the piano during the beginning of “Closer” and it captivated me. It’s powerful and robust which contrasts Paul’s gorgeous voice in the perfect way. The danciness of “Fire” falls to the wayside and is replaced by pure tenderness for this track and it whisked me away to a soft dreamland. Even as the rest of the instrumentation comes in during this track and the drums add a harsher beat, Paul’s voice keeps this from going over the edge. “Closer” is a powerful track and almost exhausting somehow so the lightness of “Walk Through The Noise” was much appreciated. The beat on this song is lighter and Paul’s voice goes back to something a bit more dancey like the opening track. This is a fun song that I will absolutely be going back to on those cloudy days where you just need a little pep in your step.
The power that “Latest Mistake” kicks off with instantly drew me to attention. This was an instant favorite of mine because of the piano parts in it. You hear a super beefy almost percussion-like part while you get a more dancey and flowing upper part. It’s really genius and had me caught so adding the real-life lyrics about your “latest mistake” was just the icing on the cake. I was so into the track that I was a bit bummed as it was replaced by “Read My Mind” which slows things down a little bit and takes a more heartbreaking turn when it comes to the lyrics. There’s something super approachable about Paul’s vocal styling which adds something to this album that I just can’t put my fingers on. Don’t get me wrong, his voice is perfect for this album but it’s also very normal in this strange way. I really don’t know how to explain it. I guess you’ll just have to listen for yourself.
“Counting Sand” has a very atmospheric beginning to it. Paul’s vocals seem to match that atmospheric feeling with a sense of whisper in every word before it builds to an anthemic sound that only Paul could pull off. The beauty in this piece of music can not be said enough and I honestly couldn’t help but just sit back and take it all in until it was replaced by “Still Breathing”. Although “Still Breathing” starts off very calm and still almost atmospheric, it quickly builds into something very powerful and monumental. It’s a triumphant number that, although clearly powerful, shows a sense of restraint in it that makes it a bit unpredictable and very “Paul Michell”.
At four and a half minutes long, “Nothing” is the longest track on this eleven-song album. IT kicks off with a stunning piano part that instantly made me want to stop everything and rush down to my keyboard to try and figure it out so I could play it. Even if I could figure it out, it wouldn’t sound the same. Just like Paul treats every word with an undeniable sense of respect, he does the same thing with every note he plays and every note placed in his tracks. Sure, all musicians are artistic types but it becomes clear that Paul Michell is a true artist with the way he paints with his notes and words.
“Always Be This Way” brings a weight with each word that I hadn’t felt in the previous tracks. It also brings a darker side of Paul that I wish I could hear more of. There’s heartbreak in a lot of the words throughout this album but I feel like this track is where you really feel that pain. Even when the instrumentation takes over with weird electronic sounds, you can feel tension and frustration with each beep and boop. Again, this is not just a song, it’s a piece of work and I was stuck in the palm of Paul Michell’s hand throughout this track.
The darkness of “Always Be This Way” subsides and gives way to pure beauty for “Don’t Look Back”. These two songs together really tell a full story (I mean, this whole album does) and work so well together even though they probably shouldn’t since they are so different stylistically. The final track, “See You In The Morning”, matches the feeling of “Always Be This Way”. It’s truly a gorgeous ending to a stunning album that completely caught me off guard but absolutely hit the spot.
I judged a CD by its [back]cover and I will always regret that. This album is so much more than just pretty piano music as the back cover led me to believe. This album brings storytelling, anger, passion, beauty, and power in a way that I haven’t heard in quite some time. What a stunning piece of art.
My Favorite Track(s): “Fire”; “Latest Mistake”
For Fans Of: Piano Magic; Power; Pure Art
Dance-ability: 7 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie stalked his dinner bowl looking for dessert; Autumn slept upstairs
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 6 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 7.4 out of 10
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