They say first impressions are the most important so any album whose opening blasts remind me of a slightly whimsical Waterboys, a folky take on Squeeze, or a more coherent John Martyn has to be applauded in catching my interest from the get go. The brassy stomp of 24/7 is a great way to intrigue and entice and by following it with the very delicate and restrained It’s Come to This you immediately get an idea of the sonic scope and lyrical imagination of Mike’s repertoire.
But it isn’t just a case of mixing up the dynamic or the volume, as the album progresses it wanders through a number of styles and genres too. Everything’s Going My Way is a cool, up tempo, up town, jazz-soul groove, It’s a Given is a chiming and shimmering beautiful slice of folk and The Gardener of Aleppo is a raw and skittering Appalachian rootsy blues piece.
The art of writing across so many styles is to not to sound too scattered and disjointed and Mike’s ability to skirt around many different genres yet make them fit together into a cohesive piece of work is joy to behold and speaks not only to his ability to travel the musical landscape playing by his own rules, but perhaps tells us just how pointless generic labels are in the first place.
Throw in plenty of gently humorous turns of phrase, poeticism and personal insights, not to mention some beautifully poignant moments, world thoughts, literary references and even, quite unexpectedly, Andre The Giant and you have a wonderful collection of deft and dexterous acoustica. What more can you ask for?