Free For All
The up-tempo Free For All opens the album. This song is completely in the tradition of Mike’s earlier work. Strong and soothing vocals (think Robin Wilson, Gin Blossoms) and a catchy tune with a good focus on the melody (again, think Gin Blossoms, maybe with a bit Matt Nathanson thrown in) with lyrics that are above average in this day and age where average music often seems to get further than the real good stuff. On Free For All, Mike Finley shows that he belongs to the real good stuff. Even though it’s not the best track of this 5-piece, it shows the quality and care that this young musician has for what he does.
Summer’s Gone might well be one of the best tracks on this EP. Mike combines a melodic pop song with the traditional singer/songwriter storytelling quality. It shows hints of Patrick Ryan Clark & Graham Colton when it comes to the sound, especially to the latter. But the underlying British accent, though not as apparent as on his previous work, gives the vocals a bit extra. Lyrically this song is one of my favorites as well, and it’s one of these songs with the quality of drawing you in and make you sing along to it, without you even noticing you are.
I’m glad to hear Die Trying. Out of the 5 songs on the EP, this is the one that reminds me most of Mike’s previous work, though I know some people won’t agree with me. But both lyrically and musically it has that sway and melodic compassion that I loved in Mike’s earlier songs too. Die Trying is a little grittier and a little more mature and it is more suited for commercial purposes but in essence it’s still that melodramatic kid from Oxford with his beautiful song making the music that comes from his heart.
Good Morning, America
Then we arrive at the highlight of this EP, that is too short for my liking. Someone who has this kinda of talent should be able to release full-lengths. But when people hear songs like Good Morning, America that can only be a matter of time. This epic anthem with it’s lush and somewhat mystical melody and humorous yet serious (yes this is possible!) lyrics with an ability to really speak to you. It’s no wonder the focus is on the lyrics & the vocals in this song, with the music being completely supportive of that. A lot of credit also to the production and mixing staff, as this song is delivered perfectly. TV show anyone?!
The EP ends with the wonderful Love with it’s uplifting and inspirational lyrics and melody. No wonder Chris Tomlin decided to put it on his new album (which is very good by the way, even for non-religious listeners it is worth it). “There is love, there is forgiveness, there is love in times of need”. Amen, my friend, amen!
“The Way We Are” definitely shows the influence of Cary Pierce and shows similarities with artists the producer/engineer/performer worked with in the past. The music still has the Neve/Gin Blossoms/Goo Goo Dolls feel underneath, but these new songs also have a similar sound to Graham Colton, Patrick Ryan Clark & other artists connected to Pierce. Mike Finley’s soothing vocals and the humor in his songwriting gives his work an extra edge that is apparent on this new EP. While this young man definitely has room (and time) to grow, his talent is unmistakebly there. With these 5 neatly constructed pop songs that are catchy enough to stick he is on the right track, and with the right amount of dedication and passion, there is a bright future ahead for Mike Finley.