What do Sting, Pat Benatar, Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Government Mule, and Pink Floyd all have in common?  In addition to the obvious fact that each has enjoyed massive commercial success, all of those artists are fortunate enough to have availed themselves of the vocal talents of singer/songwriter and guitarist Machan.  Now, with the release of Motion of Love on NuGroov Records, Machan is truly stepping out from the background with a CD that showcases the many facets of her exotic adult-pop-meets-jazz sound.

Machan’s reputation as an accomplished professional has earned her the respect of her musical peers, some of the most illustrious of which join her on Motion of Love.  The CD features guest appearances by jazz greats John Medeski, John Scofield, and Randy Brecker, and Brazilian percussionist Portinho, as well as strong musical contributions from Government Mule’s Danny Louis (who also just happens to be Machan’s husband!)  Not to be overlooked is Machan’s first-class guitar playing that sets the table for this feast of talent. 

Motion of Love is Machan’s second CD, following her eponymous debut of a few years back (released on A440 Records.) Machan says that the new CD is evidence of a new confidence and maturity.  “I think my first record was a great introduction to my abilities, but with Motion of Love, I really tried to be thoughtful about including songs with different grooves and diverse subject matter to give my audience a broader sense of what I’m about, both musically and personally.” 

Machan wrote all but one of the ten songs on Motion of Love.  Drawing from her own experiences and emotions, Machan tackles both the personal and the universal in her songwriting, although as she says, “It all feels personal for me, even if I’m writing from a fictional framework.” The CD kicks off with its title track, a lyrical, smooth adventure that highlights the simple purity of Machan’s voice.  The smooth vibe continues with the full-bodied and tasty love song, “More,” which features John Medeski on Fender Rhodes.  The light hearted Reggae-influenced lilt of “Everyday” belies the pointed social commentary of its lyrics.  “As I’ve gotten older, I find I can’t ignore what’s happening in the world or the way I feel about it,” explains Machan.  “In order to develop as a songwriter, I want to be a person that speaks her truth.” 

The CD’s only cover is Machan’s version of Government Mule’s “Beautifully Broken,” but with significant changes that make it very much her own.  “I even changed the chords to suit my arrangement, which is completely different from Government Mule’s.  I also really wanted to cover a song from another idiom, from the other end of the musical spectrum, and make it work for me” Machan explains. “Of course ‘Beautifully Broken’ has a great lyric, and that’s what really turned me on.”  Contributing to the song’s impact are John Scofield on guitar and Portinho on drums.

Randy Brecker’s trumpet on “A Broken Heart Like This” provides just the right mournful note to support Machan’s poignant lyrical exploration of loss and sorrow.  Things take a more upbeat turn on “Extraordinary Thing,” propelled by a light, sparkling ambiance courtesy of Medeski’s Wurlitzer, and continue in a light-hearted direction with “Little Bird, “ which features a strapping alto sax solo by Aaron Heick, who’s performed with Marc Cohen, Chaka Kahn, and Grover Washington, Jr., among others.

With “In Your Word” Machan explores the importance of personal responsibility in the world today, again tapping John Medeski’s keyboard contributions to provide emphasis to the song’s strong lyrical content. In fact, the song percolates with a kind of jam band feel, as a result of the musical interplay between Medeski, Danny Louis on clavinet, and guitarist John Herington (Steely Dan.) The Brazilian vibe that subtly permeates much of Machan’s work takes center stage on the romantic “Your Smile,” which fittingly pairs the vocalist with husband Danny Louis, playing both Hammond B3 and Hohner keyboards.  The CD concludes with the sincere ballad, “Vulnerable, which Machan describes as “raw and real.” 

It’s no surprise that Machan has followed a musical path.  Her mother was a Japanese jazz vocalist who met Machan’s father when he booked her trio, which also featured pianist Toshiko Akioshi, into a post WWII officers club in Yokohama. Raised in the US, by the age of twelve Machan had taught herself to play the guitar, emulating her early musical heroes such as Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, and had begun to perform in venues around her hometown. By the age of 16, she was supporting herself as a performer.  She studied jazz theory and vocal performance at William Patterson College, and soon found herself sharing the stage with artists ranging from Pink Floyd to George Benson to Sting.  The lessons she learned from her experiences in the world of pop superstardom resonate for her now that she’s committing her self to her solo career:  “The guys in Pink Floyd were mega rock stars yet they were down to earth and wonderful to work with. They taught me that success doesn’t mean you have to be out of touch with reality or change who you are.  You decide who you want to be and what to do with that kind of power.” 

A few years back, following an extensive tour with Sting, Machan finally felt the confidence to strike out on her own as a performer. “Even though I had some great experiences, working as a background singer wasn’t what I really wanted to do. When I was younger, I hadn’t found my direction or my voice as an artist, so I hid behind other artists.”  Machan began to find her own way with her debut self-titled release, which reflected the singer’s myriad influences, softly weaving her inviting vocals around warm Brazilian rhythms and adult pop melodies, spiced with hints of jazz and world music. 

“Now I feel like I’m back on the path that I started down when I was a teenager.  I’ve come back to my own main road now, and I am so happy to feel back on track.”

Motion of Love sustains the mellifluous momentum of Machan’s signature sound, enhanced by an even greater depth and meaning.  “I hope that people will feel like I’ve shared more of myself with them, this time out,” she explains. “I hope that my music will touch or inspire them in some way.  After all, isn’t that what everyone wants – to contribute and make a difference?”