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Mike Blakely
©2008 Swing Rider Records
Review by Lucky Boyd

Now comes the seventh solo project for Mike Blakely, complete with his farthest artistic toss to date, but meeting expectations at every turn.  John M. Greenburg produces this star-studded offering and paints Blakely with a new drop shadow.  What emerges is a softer Blakely, more in touch with the essence of the song than ever before.  Blakely’s vocal tails were more deliberate in the past, as he performed each of his well-structured offerings with an actor’s skill.  Listen and you’ll hear Blakely actually whisper off notes at the end of a poignant line giving fans their money’s worth of passion and for the first time, I believe, hearing Mike fully immersed with little regard for boundaries.  This album offers clever and well-orchestrated intros to a few cuts, a bit of a departure for Blakely, but a welcome addition to his enormously comfortable style.  No doubt having the who’s who of Texas music appearing on the disc gave Blakely the freedom to close his eyes and enjoy the process.  Each cut seems as if it were recorded with effortless perfection and each listener will be certain Mike is singing only to them.  Much of the writing is in Blakely’s familiar genre, but it’s the performances that set this album apart.  Greenburg has captured a musical portrait of Mike Blakely with the right filter.  Listen for Lloyd Maines, Chris Gage, Dick Gimble, and wonderful flute work by John Falcon as they are but a sample of the talent assembled for this recording.  This is the album that Nashville is afraid of.  It is polished, pristine, artistic, innovative, and connects with fans.  Only in the Friendly State will you find this formula working, and it works for Mike Blakely as well as it does for any singer in Texas.

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Mike Blakely