I first heard Mychael David about four years ago, when I checked him out in advance of a local concert and realized there was a veteran, elite country music singer in the area, if only I had previously taken the time to investigate.
Mychael has that classic country voice, but with the energy level to bring “real” country to the masses in a powerful arena setting, with a hint of classic rock power that only adds to his appeal. His patriotism, support for the troops, and appreciation of good police officers is at the forefront of his performances, and it’s genuine and sincere. There’s no need to try to package Mychael David. He is the package. I love that he plays frequently here near his New England home, and we enjoy the heck out of him, but I’d love for the big-arena, national country music world to discover what we already know: This guy’s one-of-a-kind. The real deal. 100% USDA prime country music.
But you already know the purpose of the Blog is to introduce you to music you really need to hear. So with great pleasure I’ll begin my review Mychael David’s most recent album, Heroes & Honkytonks.
Album Review of Mychael David: Heroes & Honkytonks
Mychael is known for consistently stocking his band with top country/classic rock musicians, and Heroes & Honkytonks doesn’t disappoint, with guitar runs and a rhythm section that provides supportive and, at times, explosive music behind Mychael’s world-class deep, strong country voice.
Mychael kicks things off with a number that hints at some classic country roots, the uptempo, room-rockin’ “Goodbye is Still Goodbye,” with a subtly hooky riff you’ll be humming in your head for hours afterwards, a hook I swear reminds me of a guitar lick from an ’80s rock hit, but I can’t quite place the song. He follows it by going all-in old-school and keeping the tempo up with his rendition of “Folsom Prison Blues.” Mychael has a rare voice that can do icons like Johnny Cash justice, yet he maintains a tone of his own that makes every song he performs a Mychael David song, even if it is a relatively faithful version of someone else’s.
Next up, “Little By Little” is an engaging, energetic song about building a life together, about everyday life – one of those identifiable, everyday life, everyman songs.
It’s followed by a powerful song that’ll leave you choked up, guaranteed. Recalling the good ol’ days, when the “good guys” used to win, referencing several of our favorite TV show sheriffs as a proxy for the changes in modern life, as well, in “Put Your Badge Back On.” Mychael’s spoken/sung delivery on this song is well-suited to the emotion. And oh, man, there’s some sweet Southern-rock-meets-country guitar noodlin’ going on in the background, too.
How do you follow a song that emotional? With humor. “The Dog Don’t Know Sit” is one of those well-crafted fun ditties you might have expected on a Ray Stevens record, though I’d posit this is a silly song with plenty of heart.
The album’s lyrical content turns toward varying degrees of sorrow for the next three songs. “Stranger in My House” kicks things off with powerfully-voiced relationship-ending anguish supported by bluesy-country riffs. “Whiskey Ain’t the Only Thing (Running Out On Me)” adds some twangy slides and a lower tempo to support a more sadly acquiescing vocal tone with just a hint of an emotional quaver, so well-suited to the track. And “This House Just Ain’t a Home” utilizes piano as the primary support for Mychael’s vocals in a soft-yet-strong, powerful lament.
If you’ve been paying attention to either the words or the tone of the preceding tracks, you’re in dire need of a pick-me-up at this point, and Mychael delivers. The next song is a dance hall dancefloor-filler that’ll lift your spirits, “Who Wants to Honky Tonk.”
The disc closes with Mychael’s tribute to the military, the soaring, anthemic “Some Gave All.” I’ve seen this in concert, with Mychael walking through the crowd, shaking hands with veterans in the audience. It’s a powerful moment at a concert, and a strong finish for this record.
A big voice with a powerfully updated spin on classic country music. Again, why isn’t this guy headlining stadiums? So if you’re not familiar with Mychael, check out Heroes & Honkytonks; it’s an album that belongs in any serious country music fan’s collection.
As can be expected, a lot of Mychael’s summer dates have been cancelled, but some outdoor summer concert series performances have gone on as planned, just a little more socially-distanced than usual. There’s currently one upcoming show on Mychael’s schedule, per the “Tour” page on his site: a Sunday, August 16th date as part of the West Boylston Summer Concert Series at the Town Common in West Boylston, MA. Keep an eye on Mychael’s website for additional upcoming show dates, as they’re added.