Michelle Albano
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Michelle Albano

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Michelle Albano
Second Guesses
by Corey J. Feldman

Good original piano rock is hard to come by, and a powerful yet innocent female piano rocker is ever rarer. Michelle Albano uses her angelic, elegant voice to sing her thoughts in songs of various shapes and sizes. The range of her 11 track debut album, Second Guesses, really puts her on the map of growing artists. From pop/rock and lounge tunes, to ballads of beautiful rhyming poetry, Michelle’s voice and lyrics were crafted over many years. Her band supports her music with a perfect balance of right-on rhythms and orchestrated musical subtleties, pauses, moments of improvisation, simplicity and complexity.

“Bye Baby,” the album opener, starts with some light, pretty piano chord progressions and melodies, followed directly by a straight, full band rock verse, and a powerful, catchy chorus: “Cause every time I hear you call my name/I know it’s gonna be the same/I’ve already said a thousand times/Bye baby bye bye.” She sets an upbeat, head-bobbing mood only to follow, some slower more eloquent songs.

Her lyrics have a unique boy/girl pop feel, but they’re very biographical and represent a growing musician, lyricist, and singer. While most pop artists find and abuse clichés (particularly romantic ones), Michelle makes her own, unique, original words shine in a very radio friendly way.

“Reason” is a pop/rock tune with a hint of lounge energy that drives as she sings, “If you need a reason to be happy/If you need a reason to be kind/If you need a reason to love me/Nevermind, Nevermind.” You get a very strong, independent rock feel at this moment of the album as “Reason” comes after a lonely pop song called “Lullaby of the Passing Cars” where the lyrics take great shape and paint a great image: “But if I have to make this cereal box into dinner for the week/Then that’s what I’ll do/Cause I don’t ever wanna leave.”

Her final track, “Painting By Numbers,” is a genius lyrical toy to end an album. Layered over a seemingly solo piano with faint echoes of an acoustic guitar, she gently sings “Water it down/Change it around/All the more reason to fight/Stating your case/That perfect mistakes/Just somehow seem right.” This album is a concept, and one I’ve become particularly attached to even though it’s not the type of music I like to enjoy on a daily basis. When you finish listening to the album, you do feel like you know the artist a little, and that’s a hard musical experience to achieve.

Though she may seem to be filling the same niche as a Michelle Branch or Vanessa Carlton, Michelle Albano has a mature voice that speaks to both the younger female pop/rock demographic, as well as a more mature contemporary audience. She’s already claimed the Bitter End once a month, and the potential is certainly there. Her voice could get her anywhere, and it serves her best in her own music. Her original songwriting and rock-solid band give her a unique position in the NYC music scene as the professional quality of her music certainly deserves some mainstream attention. I’d certainly be interested to hear any music she writes in the future.

- Cityzen.tv


Michelle Albano: Second Guesses
May 2005
By: Marco Nieves

To put this as humanly clear as possible, we're all, always, relentlessly and disarmingly soul-searching--- in your house when it makes strange noises at night, in your significant other when you wonder if it will be forever, in a good movie or in a new CD that called your attention. Little do you (and I) know that Michelle Albano holds answers to this intrepid hunt. Her album Second Guesses, a radial debut, brings the listener a complete set of soulful piano-pop-rock with a pinch of R&B that will make you wonder where Vonda Shepard went to hide and why can't you stop bobbing your head, stumped by how that voice can come out of a young woman with a model smile.

The genre of this album, as you may have noticed, is hard to pin down, but nonetheless persuasive to enjoy completely. It's not foolishly whimsical, but clever and fresh. Michelle's style is, most of all, invigorating and inviting. Songs like Bye Baby and Reason are tracks that deserve highlighting, where she sings about breaking the ties and coping with it, for better or worse. Right On Time and The Hour are about finding and appreciating love, making it sound so amazing that it feels like you are basking under an aerial bliss that renovates the cracks of broken hearts. Painting By Numbers is the gem of the album. Mellow and moving, it is so affective that it will touch everybody that has felt like he or she needed to fit into a certain mold that cannot hold everything they are worth under such a limited space. Second Guesses illustrates exactly how Michelle distributed her strength and utilized her weaknesses to finally understand love and gain confidence.

As I said before, soul-searching is heavy on the back and exhausting against the feet, but all these steps are within love and disappointment and they can only count if your pace is steady and centered. Without the needed sagacity to overcome all the bumpy perils, one is bound to get stuck on miasmas that will cloud judgment and reason, ending the search in impossibility. Felicitously, Michelle knows exactly where to go. To witness when she collected her soul and put it all out on a wonderful debut album is incredibly humbling and deliciously infectious.
- Soundaffects.net


Artist: Michelle Albano

CD: Second Guesses

Home: New York City

Style: Pop

Quote: "Like Alicia Keyes, she does everything well, and come to think of it, she sings with the same emotion but with a more determined vocal and better piano chops."

By Jamie Anderson

When I saw the fashion model-like photos I thought okay, here comes another capable singer-songwriter who’s just all right. Yeah, she’s a piano player – maybe Tori Amos is her hero – nothing wrong with that, but we’ve already got one of those. I slapped the CD on my stereo and, hot damn, that’ll teach me to make assumptions based on a few photos of a pretty artist. She’s got solid songs, an impressive set of pipes that would rival any pop diva (and I don’t mean the screeching Mariah-type vocals) and what’s more, she’s no slouch on the piano either.

Like Alicia Keyes, she does everything well, and come to think of it, she sings with the same emotion but with a more determined vocal and better piano chops. Given that she studied classical piano from the age of five, the latter is no surprise. Her band – a standard rock line-up of guitar, bass and drums -- is tight, following her piano lead and showcasing her songs well.

Her eleven originals start with the kiss off of “Bye Baby” where she plays some groove filled R & B chords. “Enough” is a plea to a potential lover; “Reason” follows the same theme. The tender lyrics of “In Other Words” are about telling someone special “I love you” and hoping to hear the same. A crunchy electric guitar anchors “Your Imagination.”

It’s nice to hear a pop tune in three quarter time, like she does in “Right on Time,” about finding the right one:

Not a moment to waste
Not a second to spare
Got a pair of glass slippers
And a smile to wear ...

The lonely “Lullaby of the Passing Cars” has some great lyrics too:

The rhythm of the windshield wipers
Is my countermelody
To the shuffle of the people
On the streets that never sleep ...

Her lyrics are all that clear, even if it’s not the style for many pop singer-songwriters these days – no vague metaphors for this one – although it seems she’s been given that advice. In the last cut she sings:

Painting by numbers
Do what they say
Won’t make your masterpiece
Won’t make your masterpiece that way ...

No one needs to tell Michelle Albano what to do; she’s already got it figured out. I’m gonna tell you what to do, though. I want you to go to her website right now and get this album.
- Indie-Music.com


Michelle Albano
(April 2005)

Michelle is a New York-based songwriter who is classically-trained, and just plain classy. Her new album Second Guesses is timeless, piano-based personal music in the tradition of Carole King, but with a smoky, R&B-flavored spin. It's very New York, if that makes any sense. My favorite track is probably "Painting by Numbers", which is just piano and vocal; but making a stripped-down track sound engaging is a testament to good songwriting. There is something about the melody in this song that is both whimsical and melancholy. It's got some Broadway-esque notes to it, or maybe something out of Billy Joel's The Stranger. Interestingly, the lyrics are about artistic compromises - and the choice to not make them. It's obvious on which side of the line Michelle Albano stands.

- Live 365 Blog


"NYU grad and onetime classical piano prodigy pulls off convincingly emotive and full-throated early-Mariah-style r&b on her Second Guesses debut. And as a bonus, she writes all her own songs."

-- Chuck Eddy, Village Voice
(March 2005)


- The Village Voice


Michelle Albano's 11-track debut serves as a perfect introduction into the world of this talented singer, songwriter and musician.

"Bye Baby" opens the trip with a message of freedom from bad love and a vocal that takes us back to the early days of Mariah. By being the author of the lyrics, Albano knows just how to use her voice to push the right buttons to bring the most spirit and emotion from the words.

The compositions were written at the piano, and each arrangement centers around a piano and voice core. Electric guitar and a driven rock rhythm section are injected into "Enough" to boost the upbeat vibe and bring an edge to the sound. A bass and drum groove makes "Your Imagination" a dance track with Top 40 potential, and "Right On Time" offers a more stripped down mix that exposes the deeper end of Michelle's singing range, while the irresistable chorus exhibits the artist's awareness of the pop hit formula.

Michelle's lyrics are mainly rooted in the quest to be happy and experience true love. Still, there are more introspective avenues explored by the writer. "Don't Try to Tell Me" is her declaration of independence: "Thank you for telling me what I need to know, but I'd rather live and learn." Albano lets us in even deeper in "Lullaby of the Passing Cars. "This is where I'm headed, when I just want to go home. The only place I won't be lonely when I'm all alone."

Michelle Albano's strength and passion makes Second Guesses a musical treat for the ears, heart and soul.

– Dan Brown, Good Times Magazine (March 2005)

- Good Times Magazine


Discography

Michelle's debut full length album, "Second Guesses" available February 12th, 2005!

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

The usual first impression of Michelle can be summed up into four words – "Little girl, big voice."

Michelle Albano's music is a reflection of her personality – sometimes soft and sweet, sometimes sharp and dry humored, usually soulful, a contradiction of both pure strength and thoughtful indecision. Her words are her own and she instinctively chooses her melodies and rhythms to wrap around them. At the core of each of her songs is her deeply powerful voice.

Classically trained on piano since the age of 5, Michelle began to write her own songs at age 15 and received many awards and accolades as a young performer. Immediately following high school and already making a name for herself, being featured in local papers and on radio shows, Michelle moved to New York City to attend NYU. Throughout those 4 years of school, she put together a band, continued to write new songs and play shows around New York, and took time to develop as an artist. In 2002, Michelle graduated with a degree in music education.

In early 2004, armed with a fierce determination, a diverse collection of 11 self-penned songs, and the residuals checks she earned from singing the theme song to a Fox 5 Saturday morning cartoon, Michelle set out to record her first full-length record.

"Recording an album as an independent artist has been a huge challenge," she admits. "The best part of doing it on your own is that there's no one to tell you what to do. You have full creative freedom to try whatever you want, and you learn and grow so much from the process as you go along." The worst part? "There's no one to tell you what to do...which is a bit overwhelming when you realize that it's up to you to make sure all the pieces fit together."

Brought up listening to the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Led Zeppelin, Tom Waits, Carole King, and Billy Joel, Michelle has developed a style all her own – a unique blend of r&b/pop/rock infused with soulful vocals, hooky melodies, and thought-provoking lyrics. "I did a lot of listening to other records while working on mine, and what I noticed on many of the older recordings that I've loved for years is that the instrumentation is built around the songs, rather than the other way around. It's amazing how a song with just one voice and just one instrument can be so much more powerful than a big giant track without a solid structure underneath it. That's what I strived for when creating my material for this record – I wanted to write songs that would still be songs even if they were stripped down to just piano and vocal."

Now at age 24 and on the heels of her debut release, Michelle is poised for 2005 to be a breakthrough year. Look out for Michelle's debut album, "Second Guesses," to be released February 12th, 2005.