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BWW CD Review: Meg Flather Soars Artistically and Emotionally with REACHING HIGHER

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Meg Flather's eighth studio album will speak to everyone on a variety of levels.

BWW CD Review: Meg Flather Soars Artistically and Emotionally with REACHING HIGHER

There was a time when recording artists wrote liner notes for their albums. It seemed to happen sometime in the Sixties, though this writer wouldn't hazard a guess exactly when (in 1964 the Grammy Awards began presenting a statue for Best Album Notes). Throughout that decade and the ones that followed, artists would often use the inner sleeve of their albums to publish everything from song lyrics to their innermost thoughts and artistic intentions regarding their latest creation. The liner notes could be, at times, most illuminating, rather riveting, and quite entertaining.

There are no liner notes on the new Meg Flather album REACHING HIGHER, and though it would be most interesting to hear from Mama Multi-hyphenate what inspired her in the creation of each song, as well as the overall musical journey upon which she is taking her listener, it is actually rather more fun, more rewarding, more nourishing to listen to the album blind. It's like seeing a movie or a play, or reading a novel, with absolutely no idea about what is to come, allowing for all of the surprises for which one hopes when embarking on a new story.

Reaching Higher is Meg Flather's eighth album and, while listening to the disc, fans old and new are given the opportunity to either impose themselves into Meg's stories or take her lyrics, put them on and walk around the house while the songs become that which the listener, most, needs at this moment in their life. With melodies and arrangements that employ instruments and harmonies that harken back to the heyday of the female singer-songwriters of the Seventies, Flather's songwriting and vocals are pure poetry of the heart, perhaps the strongest component to the ability of adopting and adapting them to one's own life. From the opening strains of the title track, right through each and every lyric, Ms. Flather effectively pulls you out of the doldrums of these complicated times and into the light, even if only spiritually, into a reverie where a carefree existence might possibly exist, full of self-awareness and optimism, even though the lyrics are clearly about the difficulties experienced during the early days of the pandemic. Whatever is informing a Meg Flather song, most directly, optimism is always the anchor. Indeed, the immediate successor to the album opener is a lyrical look at Flather's quarantine experience, a poetic and melodic expression that is destined to become an obsession for the listener (it certainly has for this one, who cannot stop listening to the recording, or singing it when not actively playing it). The album cut, appropriately titled "Inside," has already moved so many that it was recently named the Best Original Song of 2021 in the Broadway World Cabaret Audience Awards.

Lest readers start to think, at this point, that Reaching Higher is an entire album about the pandemic and quarantine, nothing could be further from the truth. In tracks that celebrate everything from the solidarity of survival to the inner peace of a long-term relationship, each of Meg's compositions is unique yet universal, intricate yet accessible, and always a declaration of the beauty of the English language. Let it never be said that Meg Flather's music (always exceptional) overshadows her work with words, for her lyrics are deceptive in their balance of high-flown imagery and grounded philosophy, rendering each track as artistically challenging as a college class-assigned poem, yet as easygoing as a song on the radio, especially when the guitars kick on during "Let It Rain." With pretty and pristine vocals presenting each of the nine musical stories on Reaching Higher, Meg Flather situates, firmly, her name on the list of woman songwriters worth singing, a list that includes Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon, the two women who have come before that, most, remind this writer of Flather's work, particularly on the simple yet powerful "Only See You," which is wildly reminiscent of compositions from Simon's albums Hotcakes and Another Passenger. It is a personal highlight on the album, all of which was composed by Flather except for a fascinating reinvention of the Donna Summer classic "She Works Hard For The Money'' that resonates strongly regarding Meg's position in the club and concert community as a Leader of Women, an artist and a person who doesn't only inspire other female artists to rise to the occasion, to go out on the limb, to take risks in their work, but who shows women everywhere how to be the best versions of themselves. Meg leads by example, always with heart, intelligence, pathos, and integrity. It's quite a task to set oneself, as an artist and as a person, and Meg Flather has been at it for some time, successfully so. One might accurately say that Meg Flather has always been reaching higher: this is just the first time she put it in print. It is through her constant reaching for the heights, in all the areas of her life, that Meg Flather is able to, so consistently, produce work of such high quality that lifts others up, raising all into the light.

The Reaching Higher Musical Director is Jon Gordon, who co-produced, arranged and engineered the album.

Meg Flather REACHING HIGHER is a 2021 release on the Meg Flather label. It is available by individual song on iTunes or by subscribing to the Meg Flather YouTube channel HERE.

Physical copies of REACHING HIGHER are given out, free, at every Meg Flather performance.

Meg Flather's Rodgers and Hammerstein tribute show plays Don't Tell Mama February 26th at 7 pm. Visit the Don't Tell Mama website HERE.

Visit the Meg Flather website HERE.


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From This Author Stephen Mosher