Michael Stanley has been on a “The…” theme for the last few albums, going from “The Hang” to “The Ride” and now to “The Job,” his 10th solo album. Combine those ten with the thirteen albums from the Michael Stanley Band and if there was ever a story to be written of a man who loves to be a songwriter, and a songwriter whose progression of writing has shifted and grown over the years, I think Michael might make the best subject. Say what you will about the “local” versus national stardom Michael has always had, you can never say that the man doesn’t put his heart and soul into his writing and telling stories in his music, stories of challenges, of love, of sex, of work, of life.
Still rockin’ though with a slight country-rock sound to it, “The Job” opens with “Everything’s Fine,” which sure, has a line I find a little cheesy with the likes of “Everything’s fine, right up till it’s not,” but the song of danger and thrills of a woman on the loose is a fun way to set the stage for an album that will take you through excitement, challenges, and hope.
The title track brings a guitar-driven look at the career Michael has had, from buying a guitar because of Elvis to playing for a hundred thousand people underneath the stars. “One more night, one more show, but that’s the job.” That’s Michael’s job, but I think he loves it more than heading to Florida with a 401k.
There is some darkness on the album in the likes of “Breaking News,” with an acoustic guitar melody of loss and reflection, and “Dark Angels,” a ballad that musically reminds me of “Wasted Time” from the Eagles, which shouldn’t come as a surprise with the likes of Bill Szymczyk handling Producer duties.
Michael does have some good times on the album, though with some hesitation, like the sensual and bluesy “Velvet Parkway” where he’s “Going down, down, down, down, down” and feeling her body start to sway, and “Taking the Long Way Around” where sometimes love takes awhile.
My favorites on the album, though, are the songs of hope, like “Maybe This is the Day,” up-tempo with a violin interlude that is something you don’t always hear on a Michael Stanley song, and a song I can’t get out of my head, “You Just Never Know,” opening with a bluesy feel and the lines “We’ve all got memories riding with us, That tell us where we’ve been,” continuing to the chorus of hope “If you feel you’re going under, you’ve got nothing left to bleed, everything has stole your thunder, and you find it hard to breath… Just gotta take the fight into the heart of another night, … ‘cuz you just never know.” Sometimes there is just a song that sticks with you on an album, and for me this is that song.
Another winner from Michael Stanley as far as I’m concerned, “The Job” might be dark at times but the mix of his guitar-driven rock sound, that “Eagles” vibe he’s always had, and a little more bluesy-ness makes this one stay on my “can always listen to” music rotation list. Great lyrics, fantastic solos and singing from the likes of The Resonators, and thirteen solid tracks that take you on a journey lead to 100% on the Entertainment Ave! Listenability Scale for “The Job.”
I sort of always hate writing reviews of Michael Stanley songs, mostly because in my head I hear his lines of criticism of reviewers (From Midwest Midnight “He was taken to task by some critic who asked,” a line that for the longest time I thought was “some critical ass…”, and from Poison Pen with “Those who can, do. Those that can’t, write about it.”), and here I am, writing about it. I suppose, though, Michael has more things to worry about than some “critical ass” doing a review because, as he puts it in “The Job,” “There are songs that still need to be written, there are songs that must get played,” and he is the man to do it, even it happens in a club around from the glory days.
That’s it for this one! I’m Andy!! L8R!!!