Singer-songwriter Andy Michaels has been back in the studio since July 2018 to record the highly anticipated follow-up to his critically acclaimed album, Revisited. The result is Incendiary Heart, which comprises of 14 songs of electric, eclectic, and haunting songs.
A number of songs on this album contains an atmospheric and ethereal quality. Noticeably the album is filled with dramatic ballads. Michaels takes charge, infusing these songs with a whole lot of showmanship. He leads with evocative and dynamic vocals, imbuing these tracks with emotion and finesse. This is highly evident on “Only Love Knows The Meaning Of Goodbye” that starts off with some dynamic strumming from the acoustic guitar as well as the sound of strings tracing the gamut of this song. Altogether the coalescing of these music instruments make for a dramatic arrangement. On “Fireflies” that starts off with the acoustic guitar and the sound of keys, as vocals echo and oscillate in and out of this track, adding an atmospheric vibe. On “This Songs For You” the track incorporates a simple opening. The vocals are alone accompanied by noodling on the acoustic guitar that is eventually joined in by strings. There is a stripped down feel to this acoustic song as a beatific piano melody makes its way on this track. On “Only Change Stays The Same,” where numerating on the acoustic guitar jumpstarts this song. Here, Michaels’ vocals are hushed and whispery, bringing out a lullaby effect. This acoustic song is quiet and reticent – simply rendered. The acoustic guitar and percussion alone accompany the vocals. A gorgeous piano melody runs through this dynamic ballad.
Many lovely sounds are evoked on this electric album. Tracing the gamut of this record is a noticeable ‘island’ theme. For example, on “Darling It Hurts” that starts out with the sounds of the ukulele and lush strings with the ukulele giving off an island/tropic air, on the title-track that recalls an acoustic Owl City vibe with happening sounds of the ukulele evoked on the song, and on “Rambling Man” where an acoustic guitar jumpstarts this track and next the percussions sidles in giving a more rhythmic backbeat, giving off a happening tropical/island feel.
Certain songs are a departure from the emotional ballad, going for a darker, edgier pulse. This gets fleshed out in “Night and Day” that has a dark undertone where metal-tinged vocals filled with angst and anger burns with electric energy on this gnarly and twisted track and on “Sticks And Stones (ft. Carolyn Thomas),” where Thomas’ vocals are straight up a shot of vigor. The energy coming from her vocals are electrifying. The duet recalls instances of Evanescence as well as harnessing a carnivalesque feel. The number really shows off Michaels’ musical chops, as well as exhibiting a tall order of showmanship as he takes the lead in this searing song.
On this record, several of the songs mixes in acoustic instrumentation with electronic beats. For instance, on “Emerald Eyes (ft. Tiarna Madison)” reverberating electronic beats sizzle towards the beginning of this track. A dreamy piano melody courses through this song as well as provocative strings. A haunting and dreamy ballad that recalls a retro 80’s New Wave feel, the electric guitar also grace this track. The track is brimming with emotion and power. On “The Flame (ft. Kerry Ironside)” flaring synths start off this song alongside the acoustic sounds of the guitar. The vocals are silky and smooth. This is a soaring ballad filled with a positive vibe. On “Humming Bird,” where the acoustic guitar is mixed in with electronic beats. A cacophony of distorted sounds make for a cadence of dissonance, evoking an addicting pop sound with instances of John Mayer and Owl City. On “I Can Fly,” where the electronic backbeat is soaring and ambient, adding an atmospheric element. The strings also trace this track. The vocals reverberate with emotion and power. A soaring vibe. On “Planet 8 (ft. Sharon Court)” industrial sounding electronic beats pave this song. Next the acoustic guitar joins in. What pervades is a great catchy appeal. This uplifting track has sci-fi themes and fantastical elements. The vocals are gnarly and gritty.
Incendiary Heart is a spark within a myriad of Top 40 fare. Outstanding in every way, Michaels is at the peak of his game. Without a doubt, the singer-songwriter and musician is a versatile artist with Incendiary Heart encompassing all genres that include pop, folk, country, soul, alternative and everything in-between…
Michaels keeps the flame alive with this resonating album. He carries the torch, following in the footsteps of his influences that include John Mayer, Ed Sheeran, Owl City, and David Bowie.
Long after the record has stopped, lingers an intense emotional response. Incendiary Heart is definitely a searing work.