My first new album review

I’m very proud to share the first review of my new album by award winning music critic Kathy Parsons.  Luckily it’s quite favourable 😉

Album cover

Mike Howe
2015 / Mike Howe Music
Lichens is the fifth release from Welsh guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Mike Howe and his first release as an independent artist. Also an ecologist working in the National Parks of Wales, Howe finds the inspiration for his beautiful music in nature, landscapes and people. For anyone unfamiliar with the meaning of the album title, Webster gives this definition: “any of a large group of small plants composed of a particular fungus and a particular alga growing in an intimate symbiotic association and forming a dual plant, commonly adhering in colored patches or spongelike branches to rock, wood, soil, etc.” Appearing in a wide range of shapes, colors, and textures, and often found in surprising places, it is no wonder that Howe finds lichens fascinating.

In addition to composing, producing and arranging the twelve tracks on this album, Howe plays all of the instruments: acoustic and electric guitars, synths, acoustic and electric bass, keyboards and drums. As an indie artist, he is free to branch out a bit, and some of the tracks are more upbeat and lively than on previous albums. That doesn’t mean that there are screaming electric guitars or car-shaking bass lines, but there is more of a variety of playing styles that indicate the range of Howe’s versatility as an artist.

Lichens begins with “Into the Night,” a beautiful, rhythmic piece and a great opener! The dreamy “Remember” features acoustic and electric guitar with an ethereal keyboard backdrop. More ambient than melodic, it creates a quiet mood for reflection. “Joni” has a very pleasant smooth jazz/light rock flavor. “Plains” expresses a warm and gentle peacefulness. Howe’s solo acoustic guitar music often makes me think of walking in the woods or on a hillside and encountering a guitarist sitting under a tree, peacefully lost in his music. The lovely “You Know Me” takes me there – love it! The title track is a slow, graceful beauty with a very haunting quality – tranquility set to music! “Run” picks up the energy level a bit (but not too much) – also a favorite. “Swim” feels like a slow dance at the end of a romantic evening. Keyboard, guitar, and drums played with brushes give it a gentle sway and feelings of warm contentment. “Look Up” is a lovely reminder to be aware of everything around you – a gorgeous guitar piece! “Summer Road” picks up the tempo with an upbeat closing that will have you hitting the “replay” button. Happy vacation days, here we come!

I think Lichens is Mike Howe’s best album to date. He has garnered a lot of awards and nominations for his first four albums, so be sure to check this one out! The official release date is April 7, 2015, but the album is available for pre-order on Bandcamp and Amazon. Very highly recommended!
Kathy Parsons

16 thoughts on “My first new album review”

      1. It certainly was, I reckon if it had been played in NZ there may well have been a different outcome. Glad you re feeling better

  1. Congratulations, Mike! 😀

    It is a great review of a great album. In almost all points I agree with Kathy. I cannot say if, in my personal perception, it is your best album, to date, as I do not know all of your previous work, yet. Also, I find that each album that I have listened to is special in its own way. But for me “Lichens” surely reveals a kind of groundedness or sovereign connection to the heart of … nature? Self? all that is? … a sovereign intimacy which only grows from a deep understanding of self and the world that surrounds us. Not that the other albums do not have that. As far as I notice, it just seems to be even stronger and more tangible (correct word? or, maybe, direct?) in this latest work.

    By the way, Kim just said I shall let you know that this goes for him, too. 😉

    Much love and, once more, a big THANK YOU for this wonderful work,

  2. What a wonderful review! I can’t wait to listen.
    I was at a wonderful concert last night. The musician is Gabriel Ayala. Please look him up and listen. Different music than yours, but in some way he made me think of you.

Comments very welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s