Posts Tagged 'singer songwriter'

“Storyline” By Mike Struwin

Mike Struwin, a songwriter to watch.

Every so often I come across a CD with a unique sound built out of layer upon layer of lovingly crafted sonic nuance. The impressive “Storyline” by talented singer-songwriter Mike Struwin is just such a CD. No newbie to the music game, Struwin released his first CD at age 17. Since then he has released 7 albums, performed in several bands, and learned and lived in such musical hot spots as Portland, OR and Kalamazoo, MI. “Storyline” reflects the experiences of a well lived musical life and combines them with the passion and enthusiasm of a young artist rapidly coming into his own.

There is a unique artistic vision on this CD that is apparent in the way these songs were constructed. The songs on “Storyline” cover a lot of territory, both musically and lyrically. Songs of love, life, loss, and letting go are all intertwined into unique musical paintings that draw from roots, folk, alt country, and rock. A stable of talented musicians contributed a wide range of instrumental flavors to the rich tapestry of this album. Lap steel, horns, organ, piano, percussion, harmonica, and mandolin accompany Struwin’s vocals and guitar playing. The lush instrumentation not only serves the music but also takes it to another level completely. The exceptional production from Struwin, Lee Howard, Daniel Fretto, and Demetrius Keller really shines here. They have brought these songs to life in a way that reminded me of some of the more musically rich productions of John Mellencamp, Paul Westerberg, or Nick Drake. Struwin has a unique voice and doesn’t particularly sound like any of these artists, but the ability he shares with them to merge song crafting, musical collaboration, and the possibilities of the recording studio is a rare gift worthy of high praise.

This album is likely to have resonance with anyone who has spent quality time in South West Michigan. Lake Michigan, the Dunes, and even Kalamazoo are all celebrated here. It was nice to hear so many experiences I could relate to put into song form. At times the local focus feels almost provincial, yet this is a big part of the albums charm for those who have been there. This is not a perfect album. Some of the narratives meander at times but there are plenty of well-written songs with meaningful lyrics to make up for it. In the end it was really nice to hear a genuine “recording artist” make an album that really works as an album. In a world with a demographic driven corporate owned music industry, it is harder to find them these days. Struwin has really stepped out from the crowd on “Storyline”. With this album he has proved he is a gifted songwriter with a unique artistic vision and a ton of promise.

“Hell On High Heels” by Venitia Sekema


On her 2nd CD “Hell On High Heels”, talented singer-songwriter Venitia Sekema delivers a solid batch of well-crafted tunes that cover a wide range of moods and emotions. Her style melds elements of folk and blues with a straightforward approach to songwriting that serves her well. Venitia has a mature voice that effortlessly floats atop simple and deceptively stripped down song arrangements. A variety of talented guest artists appear adding to the depth and richness of the music without cluttering it. Indeed the emphasis on this CD is right where it should be-on the refined voice, solid guitar playing, and eclectic songwriting of Venitia.

“Hell on High Heels” covers a wide range of lyrical subjects. “Now is the time” explores the need to live more compassionately, while “Seems like Monday morning all the time” covers the hectic pace of modern life. While there are a few lighthearted songs here that lacked emotional impact, Venitia makes up for it when wrestling with affairs of the heart. “The Same” is a powerful and stark tale of a failed relationship while “Oregon” outlines the sense of peaceful possibility one can find from serious post relationship soul searching. “Circle” is another such success that explores the strange gravitational pull exerted in especially soulful relationships. Venitia has a lot to talk about and her range as a songwriter is obvious on this disc. Like the artist who created it, This CD is

A subtly complex album with a diverse range of emotional layers that becomes more apparent and enjoyable with each listening.

“Hell On High Heels” is a very listenable CD from a rapidly evolving singer- songwriter. While it is not especially adventurous or creatively conceived music, it is an honest and successful effort to artfully explore the emotional roads we all walk. If you enjoy the sound of a good guitar accompanying a beautiful voice with a lot to talk about, you will probably enjoy the music of Venitia Sekema.