Tag Archives: Music reviews

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

Heading West Makes It Into 2 “Best Of’s” for 2013

Heading West by Mike Howe

Music reviewer Michael Debbage places “Heading West” at #5 in his top albums in the genre for 2013…


And it is also in the Audiosyncracy best of 2013, a podcast based upon Jamey Osbournes radio show featuring outstanding independent acoustic new age musicians and their most current work…


I’m particularly pleased because this album was quite a challenge for me to write and to record.  I had to teach myself how to play the piano and double bass parts of the songs, and this was a brilliant experience.  So recognition like this is very rewarding.  Grateful thanks to Michael and Jamey.

Nice press acclaim

Heading West, which marks Howe’s fourth journey with Real Music, features some of his most sublime music to date.  The guitar is central on this release, featuring warm, carefree strumming that is accented by keyboards, piano and rhythm.  Songs like “Old Wooden House” and “American Travels” have a pensive beauty to them — the guitar harmonies bear a reflective essence, as if Howe is wandering through old haunts reminiscing of past joys.  “Badlands” ups the tempo a bit and adds a bit of bluesy groove, while maintaining Howe’s signature laid-back flair.  A must listen for fans of relaxing guitar music.

Dan Cowan, Music Design/New Sound

“You Don’t Do Enough Self Promotion!”

Time Stands Still by Mike Howe

…so I’m told.  To make up for my lack of self promotion here are a few words from people who have bought my first album, Time Stands Still and reviewed it on Amazon and Itunes…

Time Stands Still is British guitarist Mike Howe’s debut album and contains just under an hour of some of the most soothing acoustic guitar music I’ve heard”, Kathy Parsons

“This is one of the most beautiful CD’s I have ever listened to. You will play this over and over. I could listen to this all day. If you love acoustic guitar you will really enjoy this CD. I hope to hear more from this artist. Just beautiful”, E. DeCamp

“This is the most calming and beautiful CD I have ever owned.  I could listen to it all day and never tire of it”, Kathy Meyer

“One of the major distractions for contemplation and reading is music that has words, even if it is an instrumental as the past memory of the words will intrude. Howe has combined good rythmns with abstract melody – done beautifully”, Bette Inman

“A very relaxing sound with a hint of Chet Atkins. Hope to hear more from Mike Howe. This is great music that is timeless and always appropriate”, Technogeezer


I Get Reviews…

For which I am very grateful to Michael Foster @ Ambientvisions.com for this latest review of my 4th album “Heading West”….

Heading West by Mike Howe

“….Mike’s latest album is called “Heading West” and was recently released on the Real Music label out of California.  As you might suspect by the title this album chronicles Mike’s travels through the American west.  Through some beautiful compositions Mike will leave you marveling at how well he has managed to capture what he experienced on this journey in his music.

Although Mike is a multi-instrumentalist and can do justice to a variety of instruments on his recordings he really shines when he picks up his guitar and begins to play his emotions into life.  The music on Heading West is a peaceful journey and one that evokes the many landscapes that Mike must have encountered during his time in the west.  With titles like Old Wooden House, Badlands, Prairie Dreams or I Can See For Miles you can understand some of what Mike was trying to translate into music as he wrote this album.

Oftentimes Mike’s music reminded me of another wonderful guitarist who has made a name for himself playing in the jazz field, Pat Metheny.  There are times that Mike’s music on Heading West flirts with a soft jazz vibe but as you listen it simply becomes a part of the overall sonic canvas that he is painting for you and each new layer brings out more of the depth that he is trying to communicate to the listener”.  Read more… http://www.ambientvisions.com/07182013.htm

I Get Reviews…

It’s obviously really gratifying when a music reviewer takes the time to critique your album over all the countless others that are released every month, and even more so when they say nice things 🙂

So a big thank you to Mike Debbage from mainlypiano.com for this great review of my new album Heading West…..

Heading West by Mike HoweHeading West by Mike Howe  2013/ Real Music  Total time: 52:46

Reviewed by Michael Debbage

With Howe’s impressive debut being released back in 2009, every single year he has come up with a new shining jewel to add to his recording treasure chest. However, 2012 represented the first year that Howe was unable to maintain this ridiculous recording pace.  Instead, he finally skipped a year with Heading West receiving a formal release in the year of 2013 as well as probably one of his finest recordings to date.

While Howe continues to lay his musical foundation in pastoral yet engaging pastures, Heading West represents a more exploratory recording and is best summed up by the liner notes which state that “through the heart and hands a British guitarist interprets his American travels”. Needless to say, Heading West lightly draws on the strains of folk, jazz and country allowing us as the listener to hear this very intelligent and introspective music become a tad more retrospective without losing his gorgeous original musical voice.

Though Heading West begins like any typical Howe album, by track 3 you will find yourself in somewhat new territory with Howe exploring the light jazzy winds of “Badlands” that is driven by what sounds like a stand up bass and light percussive work that intermingles seamlessly with Howe’s guitar and piano work. Speaking of percussion work, check out the stark exotic “Navajo Winds” that features Howe on bongos who decides to pick and pluck at his guitar strings versus strumming.  Meanwhile, the light orchestration and gentle spacious piano work on “The Last Buffalo” have similar exotic results but this time leaving a sense of openness. It brings to mind the rolling open plains that are now empty and bare with only ghosts of the once great roaming buffaloes. The same exotica can be found on the mystical “Desert Solitaire” that includes Howe’s delectable but restrained guitar work. On the completely different end of the musical spectrum, perhaps the more driven melodic sensibilities of “Wyoming” may also your suit your fancy.

Otherwise, Heading West is filled with Howe’s effortless ability to make outstanding exquisite music, reflecting his musical journal of his stateside journeys. It also represents one of his best recordings to date and undoubtedly one of 2013’s finer musical moments in its genre. So travel west into a sunset with Mike Howe as his music is your perfect engaging travel companion.