Michael McArthur – Ever Green, Ever Rain
Especially now, as we’re seeing a resurgence in vinyl (and even cassettes!), I tend to subconsciously break down albums into Side A and Side B. Maybe that’s just me, but then I’d like to think that perhaps the artists are doing the same thing when putting the record together. That’s certainly the impression I got when listening to the debut album from Michael McArthur. The first half of the record is pure class, and it feels as though everything Michael touches turns to gold. I love how the uplifting opening instrumental ‘Earth and Space’ flows into ‘We Live & We Die’. There are hints of Pink Floyd’s ‘Lost For Words’ in the airy opening of ‘Wild in the Blood’ before the emphatic drums raise it up into somewhere new and triumphant. ‘Prisoner’ recalls the likes of Tom Petty and Ryan Adams, offering vocals which seem to both soothe and snarl all at once, while the gorgeous ‘Elaine’ is as faultless a love song as you’re likely to hear anytime soon.
If it were just these few tracks collected together it would be EP of the year, and if there was a Side B that reached the same high standard of songwriting then we’d have an album of the year contender. Unfortunately however it has fallen victim to a common pitfall; the album is just too top-heavy, all it’s best tracks are in the first half. The second half isn’t without its merits, I enjoy the soulful feel of ‘A Conversation Before Bed’, and there’s nothing here I’d call expressly bad, but even so it fails to reach the same heights as the first half of the record. Cutting a song or two, or even just mixing up the track listing, could have made a world of difference. Overall however, I’m choosing to view Ever Green, Ever Rain from a “glass half full” perspective. If Michael can make half of a truly excellent record, then it’s surely no stretch of the imagination to hope that he can manage the full article with his next release.