“LIFE” – EP by Mike Waters
Album review by Hannah of www.rockmycommute.com
I wasn’t sure what to expect at all from Mike Water’s debut EP, called LIFE. The cover art was a little esoteric and abstract, so I certainly wasn’t expecting the opening track to be so upbeat and approachable. “Daisy” started with bright guitar, simple drums, and a catchy whistling bit for the chorus. Right away I thought Mike’s voice sounded a bit like Daniel Bedingfield, blended with a little Ed Sheeran, and tied together with some cheeky boy-band attitude.
Next came “Gambling Man”, a song in a slightly deeper register than the first. This one seemed a little -richer and more balanced, with piano adding earthiness and depth – yet still positive and pop-y in tune. The vocal harmonies and piano background reminded me of Five for Fighting – remember that guy? For a few more throwback references, I’ll add that here Mike’s voice is similar to Third Eye Blind (on their mellow songs) or the guy from Filter. The buoyant vocal style is balanced with heavier lyrics on this track – Mike is covering serious emotional territory here, with lines like “Sometimes I need a drink before I sleep; I can’t keep my mind from running deep / I’ve got lot of secrets I can’t share / Please don’t stay away, please don’t be scared.” Somehow it all fits together and sounds pretty good!
Every now and then you might catch a little bit of an Australian accent peeking through, with a slightly nasal and direct tone to Mike’s relaxed and clear way of singing. The songs touch on some sad-ish topics and deep feelings, but they never feel bogged down or depressing. Overall this is a refreshing little break from some of the slower, heavier fare out there – something entertaining and positive in tone to have playing in the car, the shower, the house – anywhere you’d like to imagine yourself humming along and tapping your toes to something catchy.
Track #3 is “Feels like Home”, full of snapping finger sounds and a little bit of country style. The song is cute and strummy, like something you’d hear on a trendy car commercial – or an advertisement for an app that makes family photos into charming keepsakes or office solutions. I’d say this is neat, trendy, nostalgic, and clean. There’s even an appealing chorus that is easy to sing along with: “can’t you hear the crowd go – wooooooaaahhhh!”
This smart and charming little 4-song EP ends with “Dreams”. Of all the songs on this mini-album, it is at once the most acoustic and truly the most intimate. If you listen to the lyrics, they seem quite personal as Mike sings: “I don’t believe in heaven but I know you’re living on / Be with me forever, every note in every song / Oh I miss you so / Mama please don’t go…Don’t be sad just think of me and smile / Go live dreams as I’ve been living mine.”
I was really intrigued by the press info that said Mike had a normal-guy 10-year professional career while writing all of these songs – this is something I can relate to (for better or worse, I’m still rooted in the corporate world) so I tried to find him on LinkedIn to no avail. I guess I’m glad he found his voice and eventually broke free to the new-found LIFE he wanted to show to the world via this EP. I think his music has very wide appeal, and he’ll probably get a fair shot at the music business – if he keeps putting out pleasant records like these in the future.