Pursuing his lifelong passion for music after a forced change in career, Michael Armstrong is a slightly different proposition to most independent singer-songwriters releasing a debut album. He has more in common stylistically with pop icons such as Billy Joel and Paul McCartney (who wrote the two covers included here) than with the likes of Ed Sheeran or Paulo Nutini. As such, he sets himself apart from the crowd, offering an alternative for fans on the hunt for new music.
With fourteen tracks in total, the album moves mostly between acoustic guitar and piano, laying the foundations and chord patterns under a tight vocal with a distinctive tone. Around those bases there are guest soloists, a well choreographed rhythm section and a great sense of musicality. The building blocks that make up each song might seem at first to be simply placed together, but at times they’re shifted slightly out of place, making it not only an entertaining listen but an intriguing one too.
It’s easy to imagine that younger generations might place this to one side without much thought, simply because it’s not what they’re used to. More fool them. In the meantime, the rest of us can enjoy this album from a truly talented songwriter.