Michael Lyon “Want to Be a Flower”

California-based educator, vocalist, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Michael Lyon has a unique artistic mandate. It’s simple but rare. One of his stated purposes is that if he’s fortunate enough for listeners to spend time with his music, he wants to elevate them rather than bring them down. This doesn’t mean that his work serves up idyllic visions in songs that aren’t rooted in reality but, instead, songs that see the world for what it is and still find beauty in everything.

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“Want to Be a Flower” doesn’t depict that with trite, wearisome language. Lyon’s writing, instead, captures the earnest desire to soar with the figurative angels of our lives, always awakened to life’s countless possibilities, and it does so with a wide-ranging point of view. He brings the serious to bear, the poetic, the direct, and more with each of these touches co-existing with one another in the overall scheme of the song.

The song, like his other musical output, is an artistic extension of how Lyon endeavors to live. There’s a lovely accompanying video for the song. It’s a lyric video as well and he syncs the words with several very appropriate images/clips that accentuate the track’s themes without ever overshadowing the song in the slightest. The bright color composition of the video compliments the track as well without ever seeming too overwrought or garish. It’s a good move to release a clip for this song.

He doesn’t have a traditionally beautiful voice with impossible range, breathless highs, and theatrical lows. Instead, it’s an intensely human voice, every bit as much as his songwriting, and the vulnerable emotion conveyed by his voice adds innumerable layers to the song. His playfulness is an important part of the song’s success; the way he turns certain lines has immense across-the-board appeal without ever cheapening the song. You can almost see him smiling as he delivers some lines.

The acoustic guitar playing is spotless. It is a deceptively simple melody, beguiling, but one that demands a level of precision from the player honed by years of repetition and experience. Lyon has a relaxed command over the piece though and his fingers seemingly dance over the strings. The production does a great job capturing his voice and the aforementioned guitar, but its greater accomplishment is the unwavering balance the song maintains between those parts. The production even handles double-tracking his voice without ever fumbling the addition. It’s smooth and selectively reinforces the lead vocal.

Clarity, however, doesn’t mean that the track sounds sterile. There’s a warmth radiating from the track that isn’t a byproduct of the song’s positive attitude but, instead, the result of understanding the aural arts. It’s apparent that Lyon’s abilities don’t end with musicianship and songwriting. This song is an excellent introduction for newcomers to his work and it’s sufficiently representative of his music that they won’t feel cheated or misled when they come back for more. His comforting and melodic California sound has a sweetness and, yes, wisdom that’s difficult to resist. 

Michael Rand

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