MIKE TRAMP – Cobblestone Street (2013)
If you’re used to the big sounds which defined MIKE TRAMP through his platinum days with White Lion or the heavier Freak Of Nature, then his hew album released today, “Cobblestone Street”, will take you by surprise.
According to Tramp, this is the album he always dreamt about doing.
This place, a location oft walked by singer/songwriter types, is where he finds himself today and, bravely it has to be said, has influenced him into making a quite remarkable record.
Recorded by Mike himself together with his good friend – talented Soren Andersen (multi-instrumentalist and co-producer) – in Vesterbro, Copenhagen, not far from the cobblestone streets Mike grew up on, the album is described as a journey akin to viewing a movie of his life, its end providing you with details of just who Mike Tramp is.
It’s hard to disagree with him. The lyrics that wrap themselves around a clutch of songs that most listeners will instantly warm to are heartfelt, love letters to a past, possibly even a catharsis in song form: the ten songs that make up “Cobblestone Street” combine to form the finest all-round release of Tramp’s career.
The title track, lyrically, appears highly personal to the artist, setting the scene nicely being about his childhood and where he grew up. The album as a whole obviously so, if a little more subtly, but listeners will pick much from the bones of the tracks as they swirl and seduce.
This is a simple, yet simply effective, recording that is easy to listen to yet not easy listening.
So when on “We’ll Be Alright” he says that few would appreciate what it’s like to walk a thousand miles with him, Tramp is telling you the truth. But in suggesting that you don’t get what he’s all about, Mike is challenging you to listen more attentively than you’ve ever needed to in his career.
These beautiful songs draw from his soul, exploring moral confusion in “Angel Or Devil” and being at the mercy of fate in the acoustic White Lion-like “What Are You Gonna Do”.
Throughout the album Soren Andersen adds-in just the right musical backing, be it the subdued keys on the title track or the electric guitar solo on “Revolution”.
Listen to “Find It In Your Heart” or “New Day” and it’s clear Tramp Tramp has not lost his Melodic Rock symphaties, his knack of penning a potential chart topper is intact.
On “Once” Mike’s vocal is set to a crackly background bringing to mind an old movie and you can hear the reel of the imaginary film spooling out at the song’s end.
“Ain’t The Life I Asked For”, the album’s standout track for me, perhaps sums the record, and where Tramp is today, up perfectly: “This ain’t the life that I wanted to live / Now it is what I’ve become”.
This album feels less of a reinvention, more of an acceptance of where he is today, and revels in its honesty.
Since the first note of “Cobblestone Street”, I was hooked. This album is in no way hard rock or brash as White Lion, but that’s the beauty of it. This is one of those songwriting accomplishments that define an artist’s career.
These are deeply personal tunes that take the art of storytelling to the highest levels. ‘Now everyone can see, it ain’t the way it used to be’, Tramp sings on “New Day”, a line I find hard to beat to close a review of one of the year’s most surprising albums; surprisingly good it has to be noted.
Tramp followers should adore “Cobblestone Street”, however, this album shouldn’t be the sole possession of old school fans: listeners new to Mike Tramp will find a truly deep, well written, emotional performed recording of amazing tunes.
There simply is not a bad note on this record. It would be absolutely criminal if this is not recognized for a ton of awards this year, and most importantly, true music lovers respect.
01. Cobblestone Street
02. Caught In The Storm
03. New Day
04. Ain’t The Life I Asked For
06. We’ll Be Alright
07. Angel Or Devil
08. Find It In Your Heart
09. What Are You Gonna Do
Mike Tramp – vocals, guitar
Søren Andersen – keyboards, drums, guitar, bass, production
BUY IT !