Album review: MIKE BROOKFIELD – Love Breaks The Fall

MIKE BROOKFIELD – Love Breaks The Fall

Self release [Release date 13.03.15]

Irish based, Liverpudlian guitarist Mike Brookfield has enjoyed a rich musical career from playing in the west end orchestra pits to being music coordinator, arranger and musical director for RTE, as well as copping a former jazz musician of the year award.

Mike is a consummate guitarist with an interesting past and a bright future. ‘Love Breaks The Fall’ is a classy album full of well sung, superbly played, confident songs that brings a refreshing vitality to rock-blues.

10 self penned songs are brought to life by his sparkling tones and articulate guitar playing, as he shapes several familiar influences to his own end.

Mike is an understated player who knows the value of space, touch, tone and dynamics, as evidenced by the opening title track on which he sets out his stall as a classy player.

Together with bassist Keith Duffy, drummer Jason Duffy and keyboard player Cian Boylan, Mike leans into the title track on the first of several grooves that highlight his sparkling solos and the album’s seamless flow from beginning to end.

‘Love Breaks The Fall’ builds by degrees on the back of a lovely undulating lilt, a passionate vocal, subtle bv’s and a sweeping Hammond, before a defining solo. It’s a combination that serves him well throughout the album, as he surrounds himself with sympathetic band who really get inside his songs.

He duets with Grainne Brookfield on the catchy Americana influenced ‘Catfish Missile’ which features a sumptuously toned solo, while ‘The Killing Line’ is a slice of intense but seamless blues-rock with a funky wah-wah solo before an unexpected tempo change.

He’s coolness personified on the soulful melodic blues ballad ‘Blue Skies’, which is shot through with a crystal clear tone that comes to rest on the  gentlest of featherbed finishes.

There’s stylistic diversity too, on the dark narrative of ‘No Candles Burn In The Rain’. His incisive guitar lines could be Snowy White, while a subtle stop-start dynamic gives the arrangement an extra push as he teases out an emotive guitar line on a perfectly sculpted finish.

He’s closer to Stevie Ray Vaughan on the tightly wrapped, funky instrumental ‘Bare Witness’, where his flighty picking is shadowed by Cian Boylan’s enveloping Hammond, as part of the band’s exhilarating interplay, anchored by a tight rhythm section.

His vocal on ‘What You Don’t Know Ain’t Gonna Kill Ya’ sounds like Alvin Lee on a suitably riff-led piece, as does the ironically titled rocker ‘All My Heroes Are Junkies’, on which he adds some fine string beds.  In contrast, ‘Golden Rule Girl’ has a lighter touch and texture and is closer to Mark Knopfler.

He finally reveals his true self on his most introspective track ‘Peace For Joe’. The beautifully nuanced track is the perfect bookend to the album, as his choice of notes and delicate tone gives the track its essential feel.

‘Peace For Joe’ is a homage to a late friend of his and you can hear all the emotion and feel in his finger tips. He lets the piece breathe and the melody fill the room as his delicate tone sends shivers down your spine.

It’s rare for contemporary blues to make such an emotive connection, but such is the substance of Mike’s music that it really is no surprise that he is able to deliver such a poignant finish to an excellent album.  ****

Review by Pete Feenstra

Pete Feenstra presents his Rock & Blues Show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Tuesday at 19:00 GMT, and “The Pete Feenstra Feature” on Sundays at 19:00

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