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ALBUM REVIEW

Mike Amabile and
Run Over Twice
BETTER SIDE OF ME
©2009 Independently released
Review by Lucky Boyd
Co-founder, MyTexasMusic.com 

Mike Amabile will be the first to tell you that the AND in the bandís name is essential as he gives credit to the band for the success of this album.  Amabile pens all the cuts, but for a co-composition on the title track.  The style runs the rainbow from acoustic ballad to rock anthem, hitting every Americana stop along the way.  The title track is the opener and doesnít give you a full glimpse of the disc to come, but sets a great pace for the record.  The song order is dynamic, devoid of sensory overload at the beginning or end, making for an easy listen.  Amabileís writing is diverse, formulaic at times, niche-be-damned at others, but never failing to be artistic and worthy of note.  The bandís vocal work was good enough to get them nominated for Vocal Group of the Year at the 2010 Texas Music Awards, and that can be partly attributed to Stormy Cooperís engineering and co-production, capturing the true representation of the bandís performance.  A rare feat these days, Cooper allows the band to be true to the music without over producing the raw talent.  Amabileís lead voice is well suited to the genre and radio ready.  There are several cuts that will make good single releases including the title track and ďJohn And Marianne, arguably the two best choices for radio.  Somewhere, Amabile has had a blues influence that seeps into both his writing and performance.  It could be that itís a second generation influence, but itís there nonetheless.  This fact keeps the bandís music subliminally enjoyable while coating each track with a fresh arrangement.  To draw a comparison, itís as if the soul of each song is smooth like milk chocolate, but each is wrapped in a different colored candy-coated shell.  (Yeah, thatís my M&M reference.)  Amabile canít resist the temptation to showcase his bluesy side on ďLove Brings Me Down,Ē a twelve-bar gem complete with slide guitar and harmonica.  The best cut on the disc is ďCanít Let You GoĒ in every sense.  Musically sound, outstandingly performed, well-arranged, and strongly written, this track says more about the heart and soul of Run Over Twice (RO2) than the entire rest of the album.  Musically, ďPeace Of MindĒ stands out with twin lead guitars and a foot-tapping back beat.  The band has produced an album that will be fairly easy to replicate on stage, and thatís always a plus for fans.  No one wants to hear an album they could never hear live.  Not the case here, as RO2 remains true to what they can deliver.  Thereís a quiet diversity to the approach to each performance, but the disc is never lagging, never pedestrian, and keeps the listener engaged.  While the production is quite good, I would love to hear what award-winning producer, Billy Jo High could do with this band.  They might find sounds they didnít know they had.  This album represents a logical next step for this band.  Certainly a maturation from their self-titled release.  With the buzz this project will create, you should hear big things from this band for years to come as they solidify their place on the roll of big time Texas music performers.


 

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