-- Dan Willging, Offbeat Magazine, March 2001
with any progressing songwriter, their material over time becomes deeper
and more thought provoking relative to earlier work. Such is the case
with Mike West's Home, a profound piece of work that shows New
Orleans' grassiest folkster isn't about to deplete his reservoir of
creative juices anytime soon. This time it's even more apparent how
penetratingly observant West's writing is. He articulates situations
that escape the ordinary eye, then relates those tales from the voice
of his subjects. At times, it's uncanny how he fits it all together
like the New Orleanian who visualizes the Mississippi countryside but
never ventures out of the 'hood' ("In Mississippi") or the
troubled couple who can't decide to split or stay together ("Don't
Wake the Children"). Some are shrouded in mystery, like "Elise,"
where the answers aren't immediately obvious and questions of what happens
to this low-rent, beer-brained blackmailer are left dangling.
disc's crowning jewel, the Cajun French-English Only saga of "The
Americans," showcases West's keen perceptions in understanding
culturally diverse situations. Here, the protagonist's French speaking
grandfather distances himself from English language speakers, hence
labeling them as 'Americans' and warns his grandson they are distrustful.
The song even touches upon how the following generation became Americanized
and how elements of the culture became lost. For someone outside the
culture, West tapes sentiments that couldn't run truer.
even though there is a more pensive tone here relative to previous offerings,
there's still some lightheartedness that makes a West record a West
record. In "New Jersey," West sings "it ain't the town,
it's the exit you come from" and reminisces how everyone knew someone
who knew the Boss in high school. "Squirrels" takes the cake
as the song's crazed soul advocates consuming squirrel leads to "a
good heart and clean arteries." If you're not in the mood for any
of the pull-no-punches, provocative writing or the occasional laugh-out
loud line, then sit back and marvel at the greyhound-paced guitar-mandolin-banjo-fiddle
solos from West, wife Myshkin, and guests Jeff Burke and Gina Forsyth.
It all goes good with cheapie beer and of course, roasted squirrel.