Label: Self Released
A collection of the most wonderful songs can be enjoyed on Mike Cavanaugh’s new album „Pretend“. He really has the feel for emotional and heartening melodies. Also, most of the songs have a certain sway about them that make you want to dance or at least tap your toe or nod your head. To me this is due to the perfect mixture of pop beats and singer-songwriter depth.
The most outstanding song on the album to me is the second track, „John Lennon and Curt Cobain“ (co-written by Rob Maher). I love nearly every detail in it – as the moody bass line (Alec Schram), the engaging chorus and also the surprising bridge towards the end of the song in which the key suddenly changes. (It’s these surprises that I would like to hear more in Mike Cavanaugh’s music.) I was especially drawn in by the blunt openness in the lyrics of this song, even if they are not meant exactly and utterly serious – as I am sure Mike Cavanaugh wouldn’t like to be dead like both of the mentioned role models. But I think everyone, even when they are not artists, can refer to the desire to be or do something special, to leave a footprint. People don’t talk about it so much but everybody will know exactly what Cavanaugh means when he says, „It’s better to burn out than fade away“. And especially songwriters will know what is meant by „I want my songs to mean more than what I say.“ It’s this openly expressed weaknesses that make Mike Cavanaugh’s songs so strong.
Also, the diversity on this album is responsible for the great listening pleasure it gives. Sometimes there’s a rock drive in the songs or we get a really quiet acoustic piece like“ Feel“ or a piano based one like „Dead left“. The production team (Dave Campbell, Sarah Campbell, Mike Cavanaugh) did an amazing job to give every song the perfect sound, everything sounds just right and the vocals always shine through nicely, even in full band arrangements like „Through the dark“ (a truly wonderful opener) or the upbeat and happy „Butter and Bread “ (the perfect final song for this album).
Mike Cavanaugh is looking back on 4 releases and you can tell how experienced and professional he his. To me he also seems like a real perfectionist, in its best sense, that is. And his fellow musicians definitely play their instruments with the same perfection. You can hear they are all excellent and sound marvellous together. Besides the already mentioned bassist Alec Schram there are: Brian Black (guitars), John Maupin (drums, percussion), Dave Campbell (additional acoustic guitars) and Sarah Campbell with some really lovely backing vocals.