Changing tact in music is brave. You have to follow the muse and go where the songs take you. For Rock Ferry rocker Mike West, this meant trading his leather jacket for a suede one and picking up the acoustic guitar. Sort of. By Denis Parkinson.
One singer, one guitar and an audience can have a powerful simplicity. There is nowhere to hide. Like stand-up comedy, you live or die by the strength of your material. It’s the essence of creativity without embellishment or distraction – you stand or fall on your own. No pressure, then? Mike West, an acoustic singer and songwriter from Rock Ferry, has chosen to stand alone. He wants you to hear his songs as nature intended and has the confidence and talent to make you listen.
‘Rusted’ is West’s debut EP and offers five songs recorded ‘live’ in single takes. It’s an atmospheric recording that is a powerful introduction to the Merseysider. The title ‘Rusted’ refers to West not being as metal as he used to be (he was in a thrash metal band), although his previous incarnation is a useful route into his solo music as the influence of rock is clearly present in this acoustic music.
The songs are emotional, powerful and engaging; there is a mix of blues, folk, country and rock – Robert Johnson’s recordings are mentioned as a reference for the stripped down approach and it’s tempting to wonder what would happen if West himself ever made a deal with the devil at a crossroads in Rock Ferry. Stranger things have happened! ‘Rock Ferry’ itself, the final song on the EP, manages to achieve something rare in that it’s Americana influence doesn’t hide the fact that the singer is singing about Wirral – American locations in songs are often evocative and inspiring, but it’s good to hear homegrown locations sitting comfortably inside a tune.
West has been playing live constantly since his 2016 solo debut, opening for many touring artists and travelling the country for various low key hoedowns and hootenannies, and the hard work is paying off. While still not the definitive article, West’s acoustic music is thoughtful with a harder edge and his literary influences help produce a one man show worth listening to.
This is American sounding music that is authentically homegrown.
Pic courtesy Cog Life