Mike Alviano,
The Vagabond Songs
(Busted Flat, 2006)

The music on The Vagabond Songs has a quiet edge that runs from song to song. Sometimes it comes to sorrow, other times it comes to hope. Mike Alviano's voice rides the same edge and the sound that results from this tie the songs together.

There is a raspy edge in both the vocals and music of "Drifters," which fits the images of the song. Bits of the lives of several people form the threads of "1942 Penny." The questions of "Into Another Day" build the progression of the song from night to dawn.

The beauty in the small moments form "Tonight," and the warmth in the music and the vocals fill the song with hope. The need expressed in "Rainbow" can be unsettling and the music which could otherwise be soothing instead holds things taut. Mike's voice probably at its raspiest on "Onward" -- it sounds more spoken then sung, and while it suits the lyrics it seems to not quite mesh with the music.

There is a quiet passion in "Real World" as the words slowly let the beauty unfold from the sorrow. The images of "Carolyne" can be strange at times, but the heart speaks through them. The need for another is given voice in "Remedy" and the singing underscores the need.

Sometimes the theme lies in the notes and melody, other times it lies in the words and images of the songs. Either way the songs of The Vagabond Songs fit together and mesh together and the progression would be different if the songs were in a different order.

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review by
Paul de Bruijn

20 October 2007

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