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Saturday, 20th April 2019
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Michael J Tinker - The Shores of Amerikay

Michael J TinkerYou shall be known by the company you keep
-    Jessica Simpson

If the words above are correct then Michael J Tinker should have no worries.  On his recently released CD, Shores of Amerikay he is accompanied by Katriona Gimore on fiddle and mandolin as well as Geth Griffin on bass, John Ellis on piano and the Incredible Washboard Pete on the incredible washboard and anything else percussive that comes to hand.

Tinker has been performing for over ten years and has an impressive CV as a support act having been on the undercard for Lucy Ward, Ewan McLennan and Ian Stephenson amongst others.

This release is a mixture of self-penned compositions, traditional material and what might be called hybrids – the words are traditional, with the artist providing the melody.

The title track is a little disappointing, ambling along in an ambient sort of way.  You might expect a song with the word ‘Amerikay’ in its title to sound old.  Recall what happened to poor Betsy the Serving Maid

We must contrive to send her away
To be a slave in Amerikay

Things soon pick up though with Get Along Home Cindy which rattles along nicely, Tinker’s cigar box guitar prominent.  Indeed, the higher tempo tracks work best, The Snowstorm underpinned by Gilmore’s insistent fiddle is another highlight.

Despite mention of the word ‘traditional’, we’re in singer songwriter territory here and therein lies the problem.  It’s a crowded area and while there isn’t anything done badly here, it needs an extra something to make this a stand out offering and opportunities have been missed.

Hammer tells the tale of a girlfriend stolen by a brother, who compounds the betrayal by reacting with violence on being confronted.  The protagonist sounds like a bit of a wuss, which may be intentional, but other, fiercer emotions that he might have felt aren’t explored.

On House Carpenter, you keep expecting the band to cut loose, but they never do, which is a waste. Contrast that to the under mentioned Sam Lakeman who adds so much in producing Cara Dillon by allowing musician’s free rein when it comes to the instrumental breaks.  The result is an uplifting counterpoint to the sweetness of the vocals.

Criticism out of the way, this release has its merits.  Tinker’s voice is clear, precise and better than run of the mill, and the standard of musicianship is high, as might be expected.  Comments above notwithstanding, the production is interestingly sparse.

If Michael J Tinker should be performing nearby it would not be a waste of an evening or the entrance fee to go and see him.  But this album doesn’t quite cut it.  All the boxes have been filled in, but there needs to be a more emphatic signature at the bottom of the page.

Photograph: Rosie Etherington


Michael J Tinker
Rosie Etherington - Photographer

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