Review: Mike Tramp – Stray From The Flock
Target Group (Mar 1st 2019)
Reviewer: Stephen Brophy
Former White Lion and Freak Of Nature frontman Mike Tramp has continued to forge a recording and touring career in recent years, often with a one man acoustic show and more recently back with a full band, but whatever he has turned his hand to you can always be guaranteed honest heartfelt music.
‘Stray From The Flock‘ is the latest release that follows a similar creative vein to recent album releases, so if you are looking for a return to the 80’s/90’s then I’m afraid you are looking in the wrong place, this is a different era, a different artist who continues to prove he is a very strong songwriter, storyteller and live performer, that is more than enough for me. Besides Mike has been making Solo albums for 22 years now, far longer than the life of the other bands he played with.
Having witnessed a number of Mike’s shows over the last 6-7 years he has managed transform that feeling and power from the stage to the studio, and transformed the purely acoustic songs to a full band mix that works. What we get here are 10 stories, that feel like they are coming from personal experiences, and certainly nothing wrong with that, The duet on closing track ‘Die With A Smile On Your Face‘ drips raw emotion.
If there is one criticism I would have of this new release it is that perhaps there could have been a couple of changes in pace dotted around here and there certainly adding a rocker in the first few songs would help grab the attention of more casual listeners, that’s not to say everything cruises along morphing one track into the next, but perhaps there could have been another rocking track that breaks everything up a little. But the quality of the songs stand for themselves and that’s what counts here. Musically everything fits, and with keyboards add a little bit more atmosphere here and there, certainly a well put together album, and again one that you pick up on different nuances on each listen.
Highlights include the excellent ‘Best Days Of My Life‘ which almost transports you to a fine summers day surrounded by friends and good times, sure we’ve heard this kind of story before, but it always depends on how it’s portrayed and this one works. For this particular album a number of guitarists that Mike has worked with over the years have been brought in to guest, and there’s some terrific playing on this album, it doesn’t have to be blazing solos, sometimes it just has to fit the song, take ‘You Ain’t Free Anymore‘ for example, and it adds massively to the overall feel of that particular one. ‘One Last Mission‘ is a much more full on rock song, with almost a rasp in Mike’s vocal delivery, and it’s a powerful song.
Once again Mike Tramp has managed to create a piece of art, a rich tapestry of music and lyrics that intertwine and once again produce a very mature album. The direction that Mike’s music has taken in recent years has provided him with a fresh impetus it would seem and long may the creative juices flow. ‘Stray From The Flock‘ is another very good album and if you’ve been a fan of ‘Cobblestone Road‘ onwards dig in, if not or you haven’t heard any of these new recordings then set some time aside and drink it up. Mike will be on Tour in the UK in April so catch some of these songs live then.