Written by: Blackie Skulless
I’m gonna be honest, I didn’t even realize that Mike Tramp had such a big catalog of solo albums until I stumbled upon his newest, Second Time Around. For those unaware, he was famous for fronting the Danish/American glam metal band White Lion in the ‘80s, before later forming Freak Of Nature, and eventually going solo. The focus has certainly shifted since then, regarding energy. Singers going solo like this can pretty much be hit or miss.
Different doesn’t mean bad, though. Second Time Around is very AOR driven, aiming itself towards songs that are more tame in nature and come from a singer/songwriter life perspective. A lot of this is built around summer-related themes, particularly the fun of highways and driving. Though that obviously leaves room for plenty of cheese, the lyrics have strength in poetic flow. This is usually what I would expect from older artists that once fronted bigger heavy metal acts.
Pop-oriented structures are born out of that. “Come On” feels like it could fit with a top-40 bunch, had his voice sounded younger; that simplistic chorus is a big part of it. “When She Cries” sounds like a throwback to the White Lion days, particularly the sugary ballads built on pianos and acoustic guitars. I also can dig the strong melodies and instrumentation of the opener “All Of My Life,” with its upbeat memorability. Some of these overly generic tropes are too hard to overlook. “Back To You” is very dull and feels like an unnecessary filler. I don’t really think “Lay Down Your Guns” needed to be (even more than) six minutes. It’s not bad, but it hardly uses it to its advantage. On the other hand, it helps the songs with early rock ‘n roll vibes. “Between Good And Bad” is boosted by its blend of The Who hitting an alternative rock tunnel.
So really, this is a mixed-bag that has some high points, a few lows, but stays consistent with the atmosphere. What I was expecting was what I got, and if you’re on the hunt for something experimental, new, or generally heavy, I’d avoid this. However, for those in search of something easily digested without much hard grit, this is where you get off!
Mike Tramp - Second Time Around was released May 1, 2020 fromTarget Records
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!