Coming at 58 minutes and comprising 14 songs, the debut album from songwriter Michael Armstrong is something of a rarity in modern times. It’s a throwback to when albums had more substance and volume, when they were packed out to the full with quality tracks, as opposed to today’s equivalent – 45 minutes of music, mostly filler to make up the numbers around the singles.
A romantic notion perhaps, that the musicians of yesteryear all outweigh those of modern times, but that’s the feeling you’re left with by Michael Armstrong’s album. It’s a look back at the styles and ideas of songwriting past, giving credence to the phrase ‘they don’t make them like they used to’. It feels like Armstrong understands this point, and writes songs based on the older ways – and it pays off.
Maybe it’s the lovely production on the double layering of acoustic guitars that runs through it, maybe it’s the use of several saxophone solos throughout the album, but this is a new album not grounded in the modern. Instead inspiration comes from classic songwriters and the album is all the better for it.
It’s fitting then that one of the most moving tracks on the album is a cover of Billy Joel’s ‘Allentown’. That’s not to say that the original songs on show here aren’t great, but this cover sums things up nicely. A tribute to the good old days of songwriting, but with a contemporary sheen: