Ken Mickey
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Ken Mickey

High Point, North Carolina, United States | SELF

High Point, North Carolina, United States | SELF
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"Ken Mickey makes a 'Stand' with his first album"

Often times, a musician's first album can come off as immature or underdeveloped. It may seem that the artist just hasn't had enough playing and writing experience to fully define their sound. Ken Mickey, however, began playing guitar with other bands and finally began actually writing his own music 5 years ago. As a result, his new album "Stand" does not suffer from this learning curve.

"Stand", which is now available on iTunes, is a compilation of some of his first songs. Mickey spoke about how he came to compile the songs in "Stand".

"It's almost like I'm starting doing things backwards. I should have really put out my best, current stuff to call it a CD. But I decided to go back and sort of clean the closet. [I wanted] to get some of the better stuff that I'd done in the past to kick it off," Mickey said.

And Mickey's closet seems to be devoid of any skeletons. The resulting product flows nicely from song to song, beginning and ending on very nice flourishes (especially with the fantastic beginning of "Stand", the song which shares its name with the CD).

The opening song on "Stand", entitled "Funny Feeling", sets the theme of the CD very well. The guitar licks mixed in with a very Bob Dylan harmonica make up a smooth, twangy introduction to the CD. The guitar instrumental on the song mixes a style that is borderline country/blues and a splash of mid 90s alternative.

Mickey spoke about his previous endeavors and why he had decided to finally go solo with "Stand".

"[It] seems like a lot of times that there's always some kind of friction in the band that breaks things up," Mickey said. "I've lived through a lot of that, so that's why I've decided to do this thing on my own. I don't have to make a committee decision."

Mickey's song selections for the CD seem to carry across the difficulty of life on the road. According to Mickey, the songs were written when he was moving around a lot. He decided that he was going to group together his songs about longing and is hoping to put out "a more upbeat, positive CD to follow this one."

Songs like "Road to Ruin" and "Reply to Taking" have a lot of this longing tied up in them. "Road to Ruin" is easily the lowpoint of the mood for the album. Mickey mixes a melancholy guitar with slowly delivered, almost apathetic lyrics to give the feeling of tedium. You can really feel that he is on an unavoidable path to self-destruction. Still, something in Mickey's voice implies that there is just enough hope to keep going for tomorrow.

At times, Mickey's lyrics can get in the way of the wonderful instrumentals. Don't confuse this with thinking that he can't sing however. Rather, Mickey modifies his singing style on the CD, specifically in "Sickening," and comes off a little overdone. The song still works well and this small flaw won't ruin the CD by any means.

"Circle of Friends" also has a bit of the same problem, but the lyrics fit in well in conjunction with the music. This combination more than makes up for what the delivery lacks. The song focuses on a girl with whom the singer is obsessed. The singer is not simply obsessed, but it seems that he can think of nothing but this person, his "circle." The lead into the chorus is broken up into pieces, followed by the flowing line "There she goes again..." This style, paired with the lyrics and music gives a cyclic sort of feel which symbolizes his "Circle of Friends" very well. Though the lyric delivery isn't my favorite on this song, Mickey's song-writing skills are clearly on display here.

While the final song does not deviate from the sadness portrayed through the rest of the album, the beginning of "Stand" is a stark and wonderful bit of respite from the pain in the lyrics. In fact, throughout the album, the instrumentals serve almost to revive the listener. While the lyrics seem to carry a prescience of certain failure about them -- almost predestination -- Mickey's compositions really give the listener hope that the "set" course will not come to fruition.

Mickey, who currently resides in High Point, is looking to start playing in and around Raleigh soon, so fans won't have long to wait for more exposure. For those who haven't heard his music yet, previews are available both on Itunes and his MySpace page. His brand of Folk/Americana has a style that will certainly find many willing ears in North Carolina. By Dan Porter - TECHNICIAN North Carolina State University





Songwriter, Guitar Player and Singer.