Monday, December 26, 2011

Micah - Coast to Coast

Album: Coast to Coast
Artist: Micah
Release: July 2010

Micah is a singer/songwriter from Rochester, New York (you can find him here and here); his album Coast to Coast was gifted to me by an apparently generous and hardworking music elf.  It has quickly taken its place as one of my favorite things I've received this holiday season. 

This album is a roller coaster ride through the ups and downs of relationships.  There's the one you're fighting for that you know can work if you can both just give it "Time" (and when I listen to this song I just want to shake the shit out of the girl he wrote it about) to that awful empty feeling when a relationship falls out from under you and you aren't sure how to react or even what really went wrong ("Where You Used to Lay").  He also ventures into the fun, exciting side of romance with "Hearts on Fire" where everything is good and he implores her to just go with it and not over analyze and "Carry Me" which explores the way love with the right person can sustain us and carry us through the dark times in life. 

Before all that though, the first thing that struck me when listening to Coast to Coast was Micah's voice and I am really digging the mellow, soulful quality of it.  He has been the perfect thing for me to listen to at the end of these hectic holiday-crazy days.  Of course, some of these songs (especially the acoustic versions that are included, obviously) are very stripped down and that just doesn't work unless the vocal performance can stand on it's own.  Believe me, it does.

Not only is his voice just plain good, but the whole record has a groove to it that I didn't really expect from a singer/songwriter.  For me the most unexpected song was "Oh My" with its catchy kind of island vibe.  Even so, it is still a heart-on-my-sleeve love song with lines like "I wonder if she thinks about me, cause I think about her all the time" that lets us know that Micah is not afraid to combine vulnerable emotions with peppy music - love it!

There are also more standard singer/songwriter type songs on Coast to Coast like the title track (which features a very complimentary performance by Marisa Fair).  The vocal performance on "Coast to Coast" is surely one to be proud of.  He pushes it and yet maintains control and never lets the song go anywhere unpleasant.  There is a big instrumental arrangement behind this song, but the vocal stands right up to it.  And just in case you're thinking maybe the music is hiding something, there is an acoustic version that sounds every bit as sweet.

Even when he's turning out the kinds of songs we expect from guys with guitars, he makes the genre his own.  Take for instance the blatant sexuality in "What It's Like": "I want to know, what it's like, to have the taste of your lips on my mouth, while we are, in between these sheets."  It is a very welcome addition to a genre where the lyrics are often vague and coy and frankly just not ballsy enough to come out and say what they really want.  Also, the piano/drum combo in the arrangement on this song is pure genius.  There is no way it won't get in your head and take up residence.

Micah is a new find for me, but I think he has a lot of talent and I'm really excited to see where his music goes in the future.  My only complaint about this record is that "Oh My" and "What It's Like" are a bit repetitive with the "oh my's" and "oh's" respectively.  However, he more than makes up for that with a beautiful vocal, clever arrangements and enough flannel to warm my little child of the 90's heart. 

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