Michael Laidley
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Michael Laidley

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Little Talks
Released December 1st 2009



Michael Laidley:

Building Songs One Stone At A Time


Music and Radio contributor

The New York Times

NASHVILLE – There is a timelessness to the songs of Michael Laidley.

Maybe it’s because the guy is both a stone mason and a songwriter. Or maybe it’s because his songs remind of us when every album we bought was chock-full of superior songs.

“Michael has a very special sound, and lyrics which scream, `Listen to me!’ says Steven Sharp of the full-service Row company Sharp Objects. Steven has promoted a whopping 60-plus No. 1 singles to Country Radio.

There’s a reverence for the old – acoustic instrumentation featuring Laidley’s own virtuoso finger-style guitar – combined with an embrace of new and fresh lyrical concepts. His debut Radio single is bound to raise a lot of eyebrows. It’s called “Pray For Me (A Hippie’s Letter To Obama),” an acoustic novelty number whose music has shades of Leo Kottke, Doc Watson and John Prine, while the lyrics have a Pete Seeger feel.

All of those icons are heroes of Michael, who describes his style as “Y’Allternative.” This totally unique new singer and songwriter combines his music with a day job that isn’t exactly the clichéd waiting tables or tending bar.

Laidley owns and operates Creative Stone Images, whose custom commercial and residential stonework at projects throughout Middle Tennessee earned the 2007 Designers Award at the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show.

“Each stone type,” Mike told Middle Tennessee Builder/Architect Magazine, “has its own personality.”

He takes that same type of loving care with each of his songs, and with his two sons, Steven and Mikie.

“Everything is for them,” he says in a conversation at the office of Sharp Objects.

“I’ve taken care of myself, I own my land, I’m not in any debt,” Laidley says. “I’ve worked hard, and I’ve put it where it needs to be. I’ve made a lot of great friends, whose seeds I planted 25 years ago. It’s amazing how important that is.”

Planting seeds is another skill Michael takes very seriously; on his working farm outside Nashville he raises some of the tastiest and most nutritious vegetables in Music City.

The title of Laidley’s powerhouse January 2010 album is Little Talks. Like everything Michael touches and sings, both the music and the cover art are unique. That cover, which he designed, features baby pictures of Laidley and the session wizards who played with him.

“The center picture is me holding a dial phone, talking,” Michael explains. “I’m little, which equals Little Talks.”

Even as a baby, it turns out, Laidley was an overachiever:

“Both my parents were in the Air Force,” he says, “and before they were to go on a 6-month tour, my mother took me to a pediatrician. He told her to cut my baby formula in half. My mother instructed the nanny. Six months later, Mom came back and I was really fat! She asked the nanny what she did, and the nanny said she doubled the formula like Mom had said.”

Musically, Michael began in North Carolina as a roadie with Lazer, a cover band featuring ex-Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Bob Burns. Then in 1984, Michael met Jim Buchanan.

Jim is one of Bluegrass and Country’s legendary fiddlers, working with artists like Bela Fleck, Jim & Jesse McReynolds, and Tony Rice, to name a few. Laidley and Buchanan have worked together and been close friends for 25 years.

Early on, Mike started a promotion company and booked Buchanan, Jim & Jesse, and other acts for shows around the South. That taught him the nuts-and-bolts of the business. By the 1990s and 2000s, Laidley was dividing his time between North Carolina and Nashville, growing his businesses, raising his sons, and creating music.

“In 2005, I moved back to Nashville and decided to admit to the world that I was a songwriter,” he says, smiling.

And what a songwriter, as the debut album Little Talks showcases so beautifully in its 12 songs. The street date for the album is slated for January, 2010.

“Letter To Obama” is the only political song here. Most of the dozen tunes are musical slices of an often hard life well lived.

“Little Talks,” the title track, is the story of a hardworking guy who comes home to an empty house and “has my little talk again/so I won’t break and I’ll just bend.” Michael’s passionate yet easygoing vocals are the perfect complement to hooky melodies and arrangements that have Pop, Folk, and Country shadings.

He’s at an excellent place in his life now, personally and musically, so it’s fitting that the closing track is called “Very Good.” It opens, “A very good thing happened not very long ago/A very lonely man found a very good woman.” That’s exactly what’s happened for Nancy and Mike, and something else will happen the first time you hear Michael Laidley’s Little Talks: You’re gonna love it. Then you’re gonna play it again. And again.