Mike Kane - String of Lights (EP)

Memphis International Records


Just when you thought you didn’t need another pensive singer-songwriter, here comes Mike Kane to gently devastate you. An in-demand drummer for decades, Mike picked up an acoustic guitar a few years ago to turn his hand to songwriting and singing. This 5-track set is a stunning debut by a sensitive and mature musician. Rooted in his affinity for finely crafted melodies and intricate storytelling, it is clear that every single lyric and note carries immensely deep, personal profundity. Who am I to offer my imperfect words for such an intimate listening experience? More than anything though, for us, to listen to STRING OF LIGHTS is to feel grounded, a little on guard maybe but certain of our foothold. The singer-songwriter sits comfortably amongst the likes of Jim Croce, Damien Rice and Michael Johnson with his sensitive vocals and keen ability to strike an emotional chord. Prine and Kristofferson spring to mind when comparing Mike Kane’s songs, and to make that comparison isn’t fanciful. His nostalgic, sweet tenor singing voice is a key that unlocks all the tastiness in these songs. The charming guitar-driven rootsy arrangements circle around the stories in his songs, implying much, and declaring little, creating a constant sense of enveloping curiosity.

What makes a song meaningful? Much can and has been said on such a topic, but perhaps the ability of an artist to create a sort of invitation for the listener is an ideal way to describe the resonance of the work. Does the artist somehow help the listener find imagery and language for their own journey? Through that lens, the work of Mike Kane is definitely appreciated. Ghosts Of Distant Stations is a moody and textural piece that benefits from a mélange of instrumental flourishes—dreamy accordion, electric guitar meandering and the voices of angels in a heavenly choir floating in on the chorus—the resulting sound is dreamy... it just pulls you in. This is exactly where Mike is at his best, transporting you from a dull reality into something that feels pulled from another dimension, a strange and alluring haze, one where the weight of our world is present, but feels lighter.

Opening track Couldn’t Change The Weather, Circles Around The Sun and the inventive Conquistador are solid proof of his skills as a genuine singer. Smith Curry’s pedal steel sets up Couldn’t Change The Weather an enticing peek into the album—an intimate, slow-building ballad made distinct with Anita Suhanin’s enchanting duet vocals. Lyrically honest, Circles Around The Sun dives into his own life—before taking a deep breath. His vocals are truly bewitching, the melody is transportive. building to a climax of warm harmonies. Reflective, atmospheric, grounded by his voice and the supreme detail in his lyrics about the one that got away. A sound that’s full and muscular, but also evocative and cinematic, Conquistador is the work of a painter born in paradise. Haunting harmonica notes merge with uplifting acoustic crescendos in a soul-stirring performance and sonic atmospheres that depict the conflict between the spiritual and the earthly and right and wrong and sounds as honest and fervent as the song’s origin story. I have absolutely no problem recommending this EP to all admirers of the finest songwriters such as Tyson, Prine and Russell, for every nuance drips with sincerity and every syllable rings with the truth, and you should listen and explore the heart of a poet.


June 2023