The new album - after 18 months of work, 14 brand-new tracks, recorded at home, mixed and mastered at a professional studio in London. Currently available only as a physical CD (no downloads or streaming). You can visit the website to hear samples, read about the process or purchase a copy.
I have my copy! I listened to it all the way through the first listen. I want to organize my thoughts before I post them. I am so excited for you, congratulations! Thank you so much for the copy of your album. I feel very honoured.
I was really surprised to come to my mail box and see your new CD inside. I've listened to most of the songs already and the quality around piano pieces, guitar pieces, and instruments as a whole sounded really balanced and professional. I really love that piano and I'm not even a piano person (well Elton maybe I am).
Congratulation on your new CD and thanks again. Well be dropping back soon.
The album opens with a nice toe-tapper. The opening song, Scoundrel, has such clever prosody. From the opening intro counting down from 4 3 2 1 to the piano triplets. The opening song promises a high production value which never disappoints throughout the entire album. The bass is beefy and the top end crisp and shimmering. The parts are so clear and discernible.
The album title wraps up the themes of this album very nicely. Lyrically Michael S. Carpenter touches on well let’s say touchy subjects for some people. This is the defiance part! The second track, Don’t Believe, holds no punches but does it in such a way that this listener related right away. The middle 8 is so cleverly written; a smile found its way on my face that wouldn’t leave for quite some time. I believe the sentiment is so timely and the world needs more of this kind of thinking.
By the third song, I’m Done With You, I came to realize that I was incredibly pulled into the lyrics of this album. I am a melody person, but lyrically the writing is very strong. That’s not to say it's not good melodically, it is. I think that the melodies serve to highlight the lyrics incredibly well.
This album is full of fun and whimsy, lyrically and musically. The way the mix and instrumentation dances around the stereo spectrum in The Belly of The Beast is a great example of this. The falsetto and the sample in Hammer Hammer Hammer are other examples of this. You can not listen to this and not smile. The lyric on Hammer Hammer Hammer is too fun. It may verge on being a comedy song but has just the right amount of seriousness and angst to remain a classic rock song and rock it does. Those guitars are awesome!
The tales of love are peppered throughout the album as expected given the title of the album. There are real, meaningful, and emotional songs on this album. Classic chord progressions lead to beautiful refrains. Gorgeous songs. Some have a somber tone and others celebratory. The fun and clever lyrics and arrangements do not stop in these love songs. I Can’t Say I Love You has all the makings of a retro pop hit. This one had me smiling throughout the whole listen and what a hook!
Michael captures a remarkably authentic bluegrassy, folksy arrangement in Good-Bye Laurie. Again the lyrics bring humor and lightness to what I see as a very complex and serious subject matter. I can not get over how great Good-Bye Laurie sounds and the musicianship that was displayed in the performances.
Dirty Little Secret is another example of the strong writing on this album again bringing whimsy to a very unfortunate story. The arrangement of this song is so refreshing and well done. The call and response style bass fills are just fantastic. The bass and horns are so effective. Gotta love the organ! The talk-singing is so cool; what a great way to end it.
I knew as soon as I heard the song Nikole it would be one of my favorites on the album. The beautiful fingerstyle acoustic chord progression and arrangement provides the perfect backing to what is a playful and sentimental song that is so lovely. The Beatles influences show through much of the album and very much in the best of ways in Nikole. This song has a timelessness to it.
The mellow and melancholy is not missed in the musical journey of listening to this album. You Went Down The Stairs again represents the skillful songwriting found throughout the album. The prosody found in the instrumentation, the melody, and the lyrics are masterful. I simply love how the piano becomes more fragile with the added chord extensions on the final line of the chorus. The ending of the song is… perfect.
If I am to use Occam’s Razor to explain my reaction listening to Tales of Love and Defiance for the first time it would be the following: I love this album because it is fantastic!
Mike, I truly like this album a ton! I have been listening to it in my car back and forth from work for a few days now. I have to say I am extremely impressed by the professional quality found on the album art, the website and the obviously the music production. The CD and case really look great. I love how the picture continues from left to right when you remove the CD. As I said above am very honored to be included in the thanks. You gave me a very memorable experience listening to the album beginning to end; having never heard any of the material before. It was just as you stated, it was as times gone by, discovering albums and all their songs for the first time.
Recently I got the Abbey Road 50th anniversary CD box set. On pg. 90 of the accompanying book, there's this quote:
Most artists stop listening to their records at the very moment that everybody else starts. It's at this precise point that a unique shift takes place, a transfer of interest which almost amounts to a change of ownership. Once a record is out there, it is, in a sense, no longer the property of the musicians who made it. At that point it becomes ours.
It struck me on a personal level just how true this is with Tales Of Love And Defiance. For eighteen months the only people who heard it were myself and the engineer. Now it's out there in the wide world and reaching an audience. Nobody has listened to these songs more than I have, so far. But it's becoming a part of the lives of other people, as ultimately intended. I haven't listened to the full album since the day the final pressings arrived at my door; it is slipping away from me, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
After all the effort, I can only hope that others hear it and enjoy it. So far, so good. Cam, I greatly appreciate you investigating the album in depth and detail to write such a glowing review. Many times during the past year and a half, I'd ask myself, "I wonder what 'this guy' will think of the guitar part here?"; "I wonder what 'that guy' will think about the bass line there?", etc. And of course, what will Cameron think of the album at large? I've been besides myself for the past two weeks, waiting for the copies to wing their way around the world.
As I said all those months ago, I wanted this project to come out of the blue and hit people between the eyes, the way albums used to do. I kept it all under wraps and I think that's been part of the impact it has had on listeners so far. Thank you for your kind words about my work. It really means a lot to me that you and Stan like it.
I relate with that quote so much and with what you said. Sometimes I listen to my album and it feels like someone else wrote and recorded it. I suppose in a manner that is true. We are always evolving and especially within our own art. There are so many pieces of this album, in the parts, that I would have loved to discuss in detail one song at a time as you recorded them. The parts are all great but the sum is so much greater than its parts anyway. I think listening to it all at once gave this macro appreciation for what you created. The Album is a cohesive work of art beginning to end.
Absolutely; as I said in the interview (more or less), it was conceived as a whole, and the individual tracks blend to create a cohesive unit. So you can stick a bluegrass tune in between a pop song and a rocker, followed by a big syrupy ballad, yet somehow it hangs together. But I want to avoid mythologizing my own work; I'm fully aware of every flaw, even if others aren't. You need to have belief in your ability to do something like this, but you have to avoid being big-headed about it. Besides making yourself insufferable, it becomes harder to match or exceed the expectations next time.