Michael Rattray
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Michael Rattray

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Band Pop Singer/Songwriter

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I know Michael Rattray a little. A rare, intimate live appearance last year brought a tear to my eye whilst our occasional communication has shown him to be a gentle man with a kind and generous soul. He also exudes both creative talent and wit in abundant, generous measures. But, this artistic flair and admirable disposition hide – as is often the case with a rare talent – a darker side, a more troubled man filled with personal foibles and a heavy soul. This side of Michael’s persona is opened up and exposed at its fullest in his new album Human Life.

Whilst Human Life reveals Michael’s inner turmoil, unveiling his personal demons to the listener, it’s done with such honesty and beauty that its affect is both gut wrenching and uplifting. The former as you can feel his heart desperate for love, his mind searching for answers and his soul suffering in his quest for both. Yet the album is laced with hope, with heavy doses of positivity despite life’s constant pressure clearly weighing heavy on his shoulders. In ‘Got This Far’ and ‘Here Comes The Silence’ it’s not just the message that offers hope and positivity, the music matches the mood too with Lightning Seeds slices of pop-perfection.

“This world was meant for me with all its faults and charms… They say it’s not the destination it’s the ride / so turn off your virtual world there’s a beautiful one right outside” – ‘Here Comes The Silence’

Listening to such hopeful prose lifts the heart as it lets you know that despite the battle, there is an optimism and belief that any doubts and worries will disappear. Most of all, love regularly rears its longed for but yet unattained head, but as always there is hope, and with the beautifully poignant homage to Nick Drake the message sounds perfectly autobiographical, “He doesn’t love no-one it’s tragic / he loves melody and magic” – ‘The Ghost of Nick Drake’. However, with music carrying such emotion, it is when the desolation hits you hardest that Human Life has the biggest impact – it’s when the album is at its most moving and sentimental and when it’s at its best.

Human Life is bookended with perfect piteous and melancholic impact. In the wonderfully emotionally-drenched opener Michael gets straight to the nub, “Oh universe, what to do with this brain / I don’t wanna know the sunshine from the rain again… Show me somewhere that I can belong.” ‘New Shoots’, Getting Up’ and in particular ‘Porcelain’ are album highlights, all sung with incredibly passionate fragility and backed by perfect simple guitar. These songs are far more than simple, sad ballads, as well as hitting the senses hard they are brilliantly melodic and impeccably performed.

If there is one over-riding theme to be taken away from Human Life it’s Michael’s despairing need yet ever-hopeful search for love. Closing track ‘Life Without Love’ is a stunning and intense finale, gone is the perfectly beautiful tone, in its place is more pain, more hurt, more despair…

“I’ve spent the best years of this life / just trying to find some peace of mind/ for all this trouble all this time / I need a reason why”

“Oh Lord send me down some hope / send it down from above / and Lord your greatest crime of all / is life without love”

Human Life is a deep voyage into one man’s inner turmoil and despair. It’s sensitive, affecting, and amongst the search for love and reassurance shines brightly a magnificently ethereal album full of hope. - Tony Foster


Interview October 2013

How would you describe "Human life" to potential listeners?

“I would describe Human Life as a very personal collection of heartfelt, natural, acoustic- folk based songs. Some have described it similar to Nick Drake, Elliot Smith, The Indigo Girls and Elbow.”

What does the album mean to you? What life experiences aided this creation?

“The album to me is mostly what I expressed during a very difficult period in my life. Not all of the songs are melancholy, but even most of the happy ones came from a dark place. The album was a reaction to the struggles I was going through; I didn’t have much energy while I was recording and it took over five years to complete. When I was very ill, I didn’t think I would ever do music again, so most of the songs were just pure expression with no thought of an audience or future release. They are pure in that sense, which makes them special to me. I hope others can feel that when they listen.”

What inspired the title track (‘Human Life’) and naming of the album?

“This is difficult to put into words. The title came from seeing the world in a very intense, analytical, and often uncomfortable way. I found myself utterly overwhelmed and bewildered with existence, human evolution, development, growth, and interaction within our environment. The song and title of the album is about that feeling, about looking around, and looking at yourself. It’s terrifying at times. and there’s a sadness and despair in that track, but also a beauty and sense of wonder. I wrote it on my old piano when I was staying with my parents. I was so depressed I just couldn’t function or be alone. It just popped out in five minutes; all the best ones do.”

Does “Human Life” have a storyline of itself as a whole collection of songs?

“I didnt think it did at the time, but now it makes sense. Many of the songs have come from a dark place; from the first line “Hello Universe” to the closing phrase “Life Without Love”, there are definitely themes. What surprised me most are the religious themes. I was raised a Catholic and I think during the album you can hear me letting go of those beliefs, breaking free almost. I sing the word “Lord” in the last song, but I’m not singing to God specifically. I’m just looking upwards, outwards for help from something, anything.

"Listening to it myself, I find it really intense compared to other albums I’ve done. Usually I glaze things over and add humor in my songs to hide behind them; this album is more direct. Apart from ‘Big Black Dog’, my lyrics are so honest and direct, I feel almost embarrassed by them but realise I had to get it all out. I’m proud of it and have personally let it go now; I finished writing the album a few years ago and have written loads of new stuff.

The new material is less serious and my humour is coming back a little creatively. I’ve still had only little bits of energy each day, but still write all the time; I’m accepting things more now. If my mood crashes, I try and deal with it the best I can.

Health problems are frustrating and difficult to manage, but ultimately they haven’t stopped me from creating. The next album is already written and will be less intense. I’ll be glad when “Human Life” is out on December 2nd so I can move on and let go.

I want to share the pain, joy, struggle, and triumph with other people. Everyone feels these things; that’s what makes us human.” - http://www.tomlohrmannmusic.com


Human Life’ is composed well and is inquisitive lyrically. The harmonies are well placed and the backing vocals are very supportive. The chorus worked well, coupled with strings in the bridge and overall good production.

’Ghost of Nick Drake’ is an acoustic, soft rock song that flows well and is extremely melodic. The track is produced very well and features great performances both vocally and instrumentally. The unique chord progressions and deft acoustic picking separate this song from other similar styles of music.

‘New Shoots’ was a very good composition; it was very musical and memorable, with a good performance from each instrument. The vocals are fairly captivating, especially in the verses.

‘Here Comes the Silence’ is a full band track in which everything is mixed well. A pop synth duels with a very digital-sounding guitar line to give listeners another good look at Rattray’s songwriting style.

‘Big Black Dog’ featured a good vocal performance; the guitar is used in a very classic setting, both tone-wise and mix-wise. It sits back in the mix and is somewhat thin, but crisp at the same time.

‘Getting Up’ has a full, picked acoustic guitar sound with vocals that come in immediately. The writing is inspirational, encouraging, and moving lyrically.

‘Got This Far’ has a different sound; drums, guitar, and vocals provide a solid foundation for the song’s strong, memorable chorus, which is lyrically intelligent and inspirational.

‘Ticking Boxes’ has great verse vocals that draw the listener in overtop minimal instrumentation (Rattray’s vocal duet with a soft, female voice adds an honest, revealing bit to the mix).

‘Porcelain’ showcases a great acoustic picking pattern reminiscent of soft rock bands such as Snow Patrol. This was the best song on the album, with a great intro and verse and again minimal instrumentation. The soft harmonies provide depth to a song with a chorus that already has a great story line. There are good metaphorical statements, and it works well as a complete song, from solid beginning to captivating ending.
‘Simple Soul’ has a good feel and another good chorus. It reminded me of music from Elliot Smith and like that featured on television show ‘Life as We Know It’.
‘Higher Ground’ is country-ish, with a guitar twang and a heavy story line. Rattray is not afraid to deal with real issues in his songwriting, and is not holding back his life experiences from his listeners. This song is not exactly his style, but he makes it work, making the song something of his own by putting his sound into a song outside his normal genre.

‘I’m Still Breathing’ is again simplistic with a good new groove. It is repetitive and quiet; this would work very well for film and TV.
‘Life Without Love’ closes the album with a prayer to a God above. The title works very well with the song, and the lyrical content is fitting, coupled with group vocal, community feel at the end that adds to the ambience. This track lyrically and musically sums up the point of the album in my opinion, as it seems that Rattray has tried everything himself and has failed or fallen short; finally he will give up his own ego and will ask for help, especially from a higher power above. Rattray’s musical introduction is highly recommended to readers, as his writing holds depth and emotion throughout; enjoy our interview with him below! >>>
How would you describe “Human Life” to potential listeners?

“I would describe Human Life as a very personal collection of heartfelt, natural, acoustic- folk based songs. Some have described it similar to Nick Drake, The Indigo Girls and Elbow.”

What does the album mean to you? What life experiences aided this creation?

“The album to me is mostly what I expressed during a very difficult period in my life. Not all of the songs are melancholy, but even most of the happy ones came from a dark place. The album was a reaction to the struggles I was going through; I didn’t have much energy while I was recording and it took over five years to complete. When I was very ill, I didn’t think I would ever do music again, so most of the songs were just pure expression with no thought of an audience or future release. They are pure in that sense, which makes them special to me. I hope others can feel that when they listen.”

What inspired the title track (‘Human Life’) and naming of the album?

“This is difficult to put into words. The title came from seeing the world in a very intense, analytical, and often uncomfortable way. I found myself utterly overwhelmed and bewildered with existence, human evolution, development, growth, and interaction within our environment. The song and title of the album is about that feeling, about looking around, and looking at yourself. It’s terrifying at times. and there’s a sadness and despair in that track, but also a beauty and sense of wonder. I wrote it on my old piano when I was staying with my parents. I was so depr - http://www.tomlohrmannmusic.com


Article about my health struggles which I recorded the new album - DC Thomson


Review on Tom Lohrmans site - Tom Lohrman


Review by Lewis Roy


The opening riff of this song established itself as being the right kind of song for this time of year. This lilting sunny song holds all the joy of a late Spring just getting started. The arrangement slides and bobs gorgeously over the Micheal’s voice, which strikes you immediately for its similarity to Elbow’s Guy Garvey. The music is playfully layered with strings and flute, yet somehow retains an intensely relaxing style. It holds melodic resonances with the music of Belle and Sebastian and a tounge-in-cheek lyric writing that refuses to take itself too seriously. This comes together as a very enjoyable pre-summer tune that is definitely worth a lazy Sunday listen. - MUSIC GHI (DEADBIRD)


Discography

THE JENNIFERS "Dressed for a Dog's Life" ALBUM (Human Condition 1998)
THE JENNIFERS "Yesterday" 7" SINGLE (Human Condition 1998)
THE JENNIFERS "Jelly Belly" 7" SINGLE (Human Condition 1998) MICHAEL RATTRAY ALLSTARS "Petticoat Government" ALBUM (Genepool 2001)
MICHAEL RATTRAY ALLSTARS "My Catholic Upbringing" SINGLE (Genepool 2001)
MICHAEL RATTRAY ALLSTARS "Smile at who you need to" ALBUM (Twothumbs 2006)
RADARS "Planet Silence" ALBUM (Genepool 2007)
RADARS "Rock is not your enemy" (Genepool 2009)
Michael Rattray "Hello" (Damn Fine Records) 2010

ART EXHIBITIONS

EXHIBITIONS

1998 - Solo exhibit. Murray Royal Hospital, Perth.
1999 - Group exhibit. Open minds exhibition - Perth Museum and Art Gallery.
2000 - Solo exhibition. AK Bell Library, Perth.
2001 - Group exhibition. Artspace gallery, Glasgow.
2001 - Group exhibit - Gallery of modern Art, Glasgow.
2012 - Group exhibit - Artpistol exhibition. Skypark building, Glasgow.
2012 - Group exhibit - Polka Dot Punks - Hillhead bookclub.
2012 - Group exhibit - Outside in exhibition - The Pallant Gallery, West Sussex.
2012 - Group exhibit - Six Foot Gallery, Glasgow.

Photos

Bio

Michael Rattray is a composer, singer and artist based in Perth in Scotland. He is currently working on his new solo studio album "Human Life".

The genres he writes in range from rock to acoustic to dance pop. He has also dabbled in classical composition.

His new album "Human life" is an acoustic folk and more serious affair which has drawn on local musicians contributions including cello, violin, accordian, double bass, flute, and a full live choir.

He is such a prolific songwriter that he is open to and looking for a publisher as he is also interested in writing for others.

As well as writing and performing music, he is also an exhibiting artist:

http://www.feed-forward.net/Michael_Rattray

He also offers a personalised song writing service called "Tailor made tunes uk".
http://tailormadetunes.wix.com/tailormadetunes