Imagine that, right in front of you, you have all of the makings of a cobb salad splayed out on a counter. It’s just about time to blend all of these ingredients together to make a proper meal. You’ve got your eggs, your spinach, your avocados, tomatoes, bacon, and so on and so far all ready to go just for the occasion. Instead of gently blending these ingredients, however, you instead to decide to play a game with them wherein you violently throw the ingredients into the bowl as hard as you possibly can. Now, some makes it successfully inside (and thankfully, the bowl is made of non-breakable material), but there’s a fair percentage of the material that has instead decided to scatter itself all over the floor and make a mess out thanks to your salad-tossing technique.
Overlong food metaphors aside, this is a lot like what Andy Michaels’ Revisited might bring you upon a first listen. It has all of the makings of a great album, with each track he develops all having the proper framework of what makes a good song tick. Yet, it’s in the production process that the singer-songwriter oftentimes falls flat, delivering what would make for a lovely tune had it still not sounded like a very rough demo. There’s a lot of songs here where Michaels dares to be daring, layering dozens and dozens of ounces of synth and other production onto a song to offer it a sense of mystery, whimsy, or sensuality, and each time he does it, it falls flat because it’s just not mixed well at all.
Despite Michaels’ intent on being everything from a rock-and-roll god to a searing soul singer and contemporary crooner, he’s absolutely at his best when he adopts the KISS method in his studio and is intent on connecting with his listener without layering on the medley of influences. Peel back the over-the-top production and these songs are actually well-written, mostly well-performed creations. Luckily, we don’t have to go through the action of unraveling every song’s yarn to get to what’s good about it; some just inherently are this way—like the folky ‘Angel’ featuring the deep-rooted soul delivery of guest artist Kerrie Ironside, or ‘When I Close My Eyes’.
All in all, Revisited is an album with clear flaws, and there’s no getting around that. Michaels is an artist with the intent to produce a spectacle to behold, but there are far too many times than not where he misses the mark by trying too hard and pushing what should be a natural process in the studio. Yet, for an up-and-comer especially, there is much to approve of here, too. Michaels should not be admonished for his missteps on Revisited, but should instead be embraced for having such a good heart and so very obviously giving this passion project all that he has got. Burn the contrivance of it all and you might be surprised by how listenable some of it still is.
Some advice for Michaels, a songwriter who I actually admire very much: less is more. You have a wonderful voice and great mind for writing music that doesn’t have to be buried in so much sound. A stripped-back album might suit you.
Words by: Jonathan Frahm (@jfrahm_)