On her new studio album, All That’s Left, Michelle Lewis explores the far edges of joy and sadness. It’s a personal history served through loss and love.
An artist’s third album often carries the weariness of having already said everything. Yet Michelle’s third work shines, a testament to her great skill at perception. As she’s grown as a songwriter so too has her ability to elevate a detail from anecdote to allegory. The result is an intense collection of ten tracks, a transformative journey from regret to compassion, coming to rest upon the sort of sweetness available only to those who truly care. If only we could all love so deeply, feel such warmth, deliver such grace in woe.
As she mourns loss, celebrates love, and confronts guilt, Michelle weaves an emotional journey, conveyed in vivid ashes of sorrow and garnished with comic turns of forbearance. Yet rather than feeling haphazard, the album gathers upon all the consequences of holding people close. Michelle has spun all the relationships that matter and the effect is a good cry followed by a good laugh.
Michelle wrote this album with her ears open. “Scars” explores a life story she learned about her grandmother only after her death. “Please Don’t Go” includes words of comfort overheard during another period of pain. “Sometimes the songs are already written, you just have to listen,” she said.
Interestingly, the album features a cover of “Dancing In The Dark,” a first for Michelle who to-date had recorded only original compositions. “Years ago a friend gave me a copy of Nebraska. When I heard that album I realized that although Bruce Springsteen had been in front of a rock band for years, he’s really a folk singer,” she said. “His songs are so relatable and heart wrenching.”
The album’s first single, “Push On,” was co-written by Nashville singer/songwriter Robby Hecht. The song shares a timely message of determination, delivered in Michelle’s plaintive vocal style, both heartwarming and heartbreaking. “There are times in everyone’s life when we feel like we can’t go on, whether it’s physically, mentally, or both. ‘Push On’ is about overcoming those everyday and long-term struggles we all have,” said Michelle. “It’s about being lost, physically broken down, but then fighting through it.”
The album ends on a affectionate note, with “Lay On My Pillow,” a velvet blanket of comfort sung softly and sweetly. It’s a comforting final thought, a return safely home. She sings, “Give me your life / I’ll give you mine / Stay with me darling we’ll be fine.”
ABOUT MICHELLE LEWIS
Many performers live for applause. Michelle Lewis just wants to make you cry.
“There are sad songs, and uplifting songs. But more sad songs,” She says. “For me, music is always more interesting the deeper you dig emotionally. My passion and my love is more centered in those sad, melancholy songs.”
If that sounds like a lot of despair, it isn’t. Her sad songs leave you smiling. Her joyful songs leave you a wreck. Yes, there is hardship and tragedy. No, Michelle Lewis is not depressed. As an artist, she lives for the paradox of the uplifting lament. Her sorrow is a totem for love. She writes from the strength of the bond not the pain of the fracture. This duality makes hers such a fascinating voice.
More polished than folk and more personal than pop, Michelle writes intensely visual songs with a gut punch of emotion. As a storyteller, she explores life’s defining moments, juggling the immediacy of first-hand experience with the serenity of emotional wisdom. Her lyrics find beauty in sadness, her music is rich with melody. Intimate folk lyrics wash over a whirlpool of lush production. Refrains of acoustic virtuosity accompany modern soundscapes that might keep a second home in dream-pop. Guided by her musical influences — Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Patty Griffin, and Jewel among others — Michelle’s style is truly her own.
Much of her catalog interprets the events in her life, just don’t ask her who or when or why. But she’s always listening.
Hypnotic finger-style guitar melodies give away her Berklee College of Music education. She moves swiftly and lightly over the guitar, an exacting technique applying all five fingers to plucking patterns that build immersive melodies. Her live shows contain an astonishing lack of strumming.
Michelle tours globally from her current home in Los Angeles, softly singing her heart out from Belgium to Wyoming. This Fall she’ll tour her new full-length album, All That’s Left, through Europe and the US. She has been a regular at The Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles, and across the river from her longtime home in Boston at Club Passim.
On YouTube, Michelle’s single, “Run Run Run,” found a devoted audience among Boston Marathon runners. The song and video were featured on the national broadcast of the 2014 race, and to date the music video has amassed more than 375,000 views. Written at her home just four blocks from the finish line prior to the events of 2013, the song transformed when Michelle played it for a Boston audience the day after the marathon bombings. In that moment the song took on a different, special meaning for her in her home town. “It’s all about looking ahead, not looking back,” said Michelle. “I originally wrote the song for a friend, but it wound up helping me heal.” Fundraiser proceeds from single sales raised more than $1,600 toward the city’s recovery efforts.
Michelle’s first full-length album release, This Time Around, arrived in 2004. She has been a longtime collaborator with producer Anthony J. Resta (Elton John, Duran Duran, Shawn Mullins), spanning their work on her EPs Broken (2009) and Paris (2011), her second full-length album, The Parts Of Us That Still Remain (2014), and her forthcoming album All That’s Left (2018).