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Michael Head - Credit John Johnson

WE REVIEW THE NEW ALBUM FROM MICHAEL HEAD

It was always inevitable the mainstream would fall in love with Michael Head. Perhaps it was just a matter of which incarnation it would be. Once infamously titled ‘the greatest songwriter you’ve never heard of’ or something along those lines by the NME, his 2022 offering with The Red Elastic Band, ‘Dear Scott’ reached number six in the UK and finally gave Mick the recognition he had rightfully deserved for the last four decades since first charming the world with The Pale Fountains. 

I’d have honestly thought Mick would be indifferent to the recognition, acclaim and accompanying success that finally arrived with ‘Dear Scott’ but having listened to him recently on Mick Ord and Ian Prowse’s superb Misadventures In Music podcast, it was obvious how genuinely delighted he is by his current status. No surprise then he chose to get The Red Elastic Band straight back into the studio and produce the follow-up ‘Loophole’.

Starting with what is clearly more than a re-imagined version of ‘Shirl’s Ghost’, ‘Loophole’ is a record of such stunning tenderness and elegance it defies adequate description.  

‘Ambrosia’ and ‘Connemara’ see Mick in his finest storytelling mode. ‘Ricochet’ and ‘Ciao Ciao Bambino’ with their unmistakable nods to Mick’s heroes Arthur Lee and Johnny Echolls pick up the pace but the ever so laid back vocals from Mick, the sublimely sparse simplicity of The Red Elastic Bands’ backing and transcendental production from Bill Ryder-Jones ensure the overall feel of the record maintains a halcyon, almost ambient air.

The most recent single ‘Tout Suite’ is heartbreaking in its beauty, and whilst that may well be the stand-out track (although that’s a hard task) its beauty is reflected further in the tracks ‘Merry Go Round’ and ’Naturally It’s You’. The latter sadly seems to die off as you expect to reach higher grounds perhaps, but then again perhaps that’s part of the genius of Micahel Head.

‘Loophole’ is a record to buy and treasure from an artist with a rich back catalogue to explore and get lost in.

📸 Credit – John Johnson

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