Review: Michael Gray – Bird and Cage

The world tends to get caught up in a pace of technology that blurs lines and has many struggling to keep up. You can take that as a stab at cell phone trends or at the confusing sales of Skrillex, or whatever you so choose. Either way, there will come a time to slow down; to simplify things.

Idaho’s own Michael Gray knows exactly what this means. Blending his post-punk rocker façade with the simplicity of an acoustic guitar he builds a frame of wood and voice that create a tapestry of modern singer/songwriter that is not only a breath of fresh air in music, it is also a welcomed reflection in a world of increasing bpms and screaming fronts.

Gray has settled into his acoustic stylings over the last few years yet felt as though something was yet-to-be-achieved. The dichotomy of his latest release Bird and Cage molds a conflicting impassioned storytelling with the refrain of acoustic guitar in a dance of heart and hunger. Pardon the obvious, it was as though he is a bird stuck in a cage of songwriting. Well, with these latest five tracks, the cage door is open and the bird is soaring free.

The songwriting prowess exposed in this release take fans of Gray to an even more intimate level. With his vocally strained arcs Bird exposes a restraint from the artist that allows him to hit his level without breaking or sacrificing his sound. Innately intimate, the storytelling strums are the axel to the roadworthy sound out-the-gate. “All Come Down” drives through opening the EP with an upbeat striking of the strings. “High and Low” echoes in a simplicity that sparks light into a heartbroken darkness while adding a breath of longing and optimism. Showing his inner rock reflected in a pond of acoustic simplicity Gray hinges on “One More Time” before drawing on the haunting and vocally dynamic, quite possibly the most successfully, “You Lose.” “Prayer” wraps the EP in a longing, echoing finale.

As the beats of life pound ever faster, it becomes more and more important to reflect. Honestly, those reflections are sometimes dark and deep. It is tough to acknowledge those. It is even more tough to put that to album. It is in Michael Gray’s second release that we find such a reflection. A bold undertaking with hard-to-match honesty, and Bird and Cage is, without a doubt, the best we’ve seen from Michael Gray to date. Slow things down and spend some time with this EP.

Greg is a co-founder and regular contributor of Nanobot Rock.

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