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Mike West

 

MIKE WEST
Home

-- Dan Willging, Offbeat Magazine, March 2001

As 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.

The 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.

Yet, 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.

 

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