Andy Michaels – Incendiary Heart

Marching from the silence with a bittersweet stomp, elegant guitar strings draw us close to a burning melodic flame as the first couple of bars in “Only Love Knows the Meaning of Goodbye” begin to play, but for as evocative an introduction as they are to this sterling song from Andy Michaels’ sophomore LP Incendiary Heart, it’s got nothing on what the rest of the track will unleash on all who are listening. In his new album, Andy Michaels explores the many ways in which pop can be shaped and stylized, and though it’s a bit of an experimental effort at times, it yields more polished gems like this one than it does raw juggernauts.

The title track, which features Tiarna Madison (as does “Emerald Eyes”), “Sticks and Stones” (with Carolyn Thomas), “This Songs for You” and lead single “Darling It Hurts” all feature some really great instrumental definition in their respective guitar and piano parts, and personally I think that the detailed melodies in all of the material here is a big part of the reason why Incendiary Heart works as well as it does. There’s a lot for us to take in within any given song on this disc, which, to be frank, isn’t always the case in pop records of this deliberately experimental variety.

Andy Michaels definitely deserves some high scores for his ability to balance strong lyrics with equally potent harmonies in “Planet 8” (featuring Sharon Court), “Night and Day,” “Rambling Man” and the charming “Fireflies.” We’re never asked to divide our attention between scattered elements in Incendiary Heart as much as we are offered the opportunity to experience amalgamative melodicism in real-time, and while it’s a formula that has been perfected by the likes of Sting and Aaron Neville, it doesn’t sound retrospective nor throwback-ish in this instance at all.

The music video for “Darling It Hurts” is as accessible an effort as its parent album is, and while it’s a lyric video at heart, it plays out with the same cinematic zeal that I would expect to see in a standard music video meant for commercial airplay. Andy Michaels never overstates thematic elements in his work, and even in a somewhat indulgent number like this one (or “Humming Bird” and “I Can Fly,” for that matter), his adherence to an efficient pop ethos is refreshing and a far cry from anything his mainstream counterparts are doing at the moment.

If you want pop with an outside of the box kind of an ethic beneath the cosmetic finish, Andy Michaels’ Incendiary Heart is about as good as an indie fan can get this February. Michaels holds nothing back as he dives into a plethora of lyrical and musical territories not often explored within the tracklist of one LP, and though he can’t really be accused of paying tribute to a classic pop model in this disc, he’s certainly doing his part to ensure that a traditional approach to rhythm and rhyme lives on in the 2020s as it did in the 2010s.

If you enjoyed a preview of Andy Michaels’ Incendiary Heart, check out his official website by clicking here. Give him a like on Facebook by clicking here & a follow on Twitter by clicking here.

Eric Jarvis

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