The three songs on Michael Armstrong’s debut EP provide an exciting glimpse into this newly discovered performer’s refreshing sound and creativity.
A builder who can sing, it was an act of remarkable good fortune that after stumbling into and winning the early rounds of American Idol, ( visa technicalities preventing his further progress ) Armstrong was working on the Surrey home of producer and promoter Lisa Davies. She listened to his work, recognized the potential and this last year has seen him start to explore and exploit his musical talent.
Paler Shade of Blue is a wry look at the emotional debris that follows the ending of a relationship. Sung with a strong rhythm , the song is anything but a wallow in self pity. Rather, it is a well crafted ballad, that will have you ( maybe a little incongruously ) tapping your feet to the beat as the singer pours out his melancholy. This is the song of a man who recognizes his sadness but will not be brought down by it.
Regalia is a song that hints at monarchy and dominance in its lyrics. At times the words echo a watered down version of Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start The Fire, with a modest listing of various historical events and themes. Overall the song lacks credibility and at times sounds as if the writer is trying just a little too hard to be a philosopher, I would suggest that Armstrong narrows the scope of his early writings to a more compact canvas. He can document the feelings of the heart with perception and should stay with building a catalog of songs that reflect the human condition. It will be interesting to hear him return to capturing broader issues on song once his early career is more established.
Living What You’re Breathing is a well crafted reflection , looking back on life. Well written, and cleverly arranged, it shows the singer at his best.
The EP indicates that Armstrong has landed on his feet in finding Lisa Davies as his manager. All the tracks have been recorded with a commitment to excellent production values and Davies’ ear for detail has ensured that the sound of each song including backing instruments and vocals is outstanding .
This recording is a great taste of Armstrong’s potential. His debut album is eagerly awaited.