Mike Aiken review…June 6, 2018….

MIKE AIKEN

WAYWARD TROUBADOUR

NORTHWIND RECORDS   NW-1553-18

EVERYTHING CHANGED–NASHVILLE SKYLINE–HANGOVER HELPER–TWO LANE HIGHWAY–TRAVELIN’ BONE–REAL MEAN DOG–HARD WORKING WORKING GIRL–A LITTLE LAZY IN YOUR LIFE–DEAD MAN RUNS BEFORE HE WALKS–PENELOPE–CHESAPEAKE

Wayward troubadour?  Mike Aiken is one, sho’ nuff.  He ran away from home at a young age to pursue his musical dreams, along the way becoming a licensed Captain in the U. S. Coast Guard and logging some 30000 miles in his own sailboat.  So, it stands to reason that he would name his latest album “Wayward Troubadour,” on Northwind Records.  He delightfully brings us fans along for this journey, which is the highly-anticipated follow-up to his last album, the Grammy-nominated “Captains And Cowboys.”  Eight of the eleven cuts are originals, six being co-writes with Mike and several notable songcrafters.  As for sidemen, it’s tough to beat a lineup that includes Kenny Vaughan, Dave Roe, Ben Probus, Tom Hurst, Michael Webb, and a host of others.

The cuts lend themselves to traditional country with touches of blues, roots, and even a shot of rockabilly.  The party starts on a two-step note, with Ben’s fiddle adding the spice to Mike’s story of falling in love with that special one, where “Everything Changed.”  They keep that groove going for a jazzy, laid-back and light-hearted look at life at a slower pace, “you gotta have a Little Lazy In Your Life.”  Mike wrote “Nashville Skyline” with Chris P. James, who is on duet vocal, about traveling the world over and always looking forward to getting home to “that 615.”  Mike takes a couple of humorous looks at love and life, too.  First up, when you’ve partied too hard and the next day “everything hurts,” just go to Google and look for a “Hangover Helper.”  And, nothin’ could be worse than having your lover leave you with “A Real Mean Dog, who hates me ’cause she’s gone, and hates me ’cause I’m near,” with Amy Aiken on duet vocals.

Our favorites had deep ties to the blues.  First up, the somber tale of a woman doing whatever she can to survive is the story of that “Hard Working Working Girl.”  And, a song written by Mark Collie and Shawn Camp is the Delta-fied account of a prison break and the subsequent hellhounds on the trail of the escapees, “Dead Man Runs Before He Walks.”

This recording process began in Austin in 2016, and migrated eastward to Leiper’s Fork, TN, before concluding in Deep Creek, VA.  All throughout, Mike Aiken surrounded himself with fellow artists who knew the sound he was trying to achieve.  Indeed, “Wayward Troubadour” is not only a fitting title, but was well-worth the wait!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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