Lafayette's Mike Reeb does a fine job of blending his influences and own sound on his new album Breaking. A record filled with images of melancholy and heartbreak, Reeb casts his bright pop and rock music into the mix to keep it engaging.... While Reeb mixes up the influences on the first part of the record, I kept hearing Neil Young come through the speakers on the back portion of the album. "It's Been a Real Hard Year" is an acoustic reminder of Young's Harvest days, while the message and music of "What Are You Fighting For?" and "The City Would Win" pay homage, at least in part, to the grittier side of the influential Canadian.
Even in a town with a weak music scene like Lafayette, singer/songwriters still feel like they’re a dime a dozen. Mike Reeb is quite the exception, being one of the few solo artists I’ve seen perform in the corner of a coffee shop and still deliver a gripping concert experience. His talent as a songwriter is readily apparent.... He is also an incredibly gifted vocalist, and this combined with his compelling songs really make him a force to be reckoned with. I believe his entire discography is available for free streaming via his website; I’d recommend taking the time to give some (or all) of it a listen.
Solid instrumentation is found throughout with heartfelt lyrics and well placed, well sung choruses. The title track, “Breaking” is an acoustic tribute to love lost, the majority of the album’s songs follow this lead.... Both “What Are You Waiting For?” and “It’s Been a Real Hard Year” stand head and shoulders above the rest with the message they provide. While the majority of songs are well written, country folk songs of relationship woes, Reeb’s true forte may be in edgier acoustic-based offerings drawing out his artistic soul.
[Breaking is] a well-written, well-produced acoustic folk album that doesn’t feel forced and comes from the heart. Acoustic driven, and at times almost country with some subtle steel guitar, Breaking is actually a refreshing Southern sound.
It's been a real hard year. That's what Mike Reeb sings on the first track of his latest release, All That's Left, but if the singer-songwriter keeps drawing positive reviews and kind comparisons to musical legends, he may be singing a different tune in the not-too-distant future. Names like Dylan and Springsteen are often thrown out too loosely when used to describe up-and-coming artists. In Reeb's case, however, the connections may be warranted.
World weary and contemplative, Mike Reeb’s All That’s Left is a folk country protest album that wears its heart on its sleeve on songs like ‘Like A Wing.’ On others it comes off defiant like the angry ‘Oh, We Need A Change.’ Despite its slight heavy handedness on the opening number, ‘It’s Been A Real Hard Year,’ two things that never come into question are Reeb’s sincerity and social conscience.
Serious, emotionally raw songwriting. 'It's Been a Real Hard Year' is a gripping, protest song with a rolling delivery. A new tune, 'Like a Wing' sounds like an old gospel song that Reeb found in a dusty, tattered old song book from 80 years ago. It is well worth a listen.
While there never seems to be a shortage of earnest singer-songwriters ever so blatantly brandishing their tattered hearts on their worn and weathered sleeves, there are a surprisingly few as thoughtful and talented as Mike Reeb. With songs like the Dylan-esque ‘Ease Up Or Give Up The Fight,’ the tender ‘Oxford Street,’ and the sarcastic, yet introspective ‘Consequences,’ it's entirely possible that with these and the rest of the songs off Without The City Lights, the Midwest can have their very own Bruce Springsteen.
Without The City Lights is a stripped down affair showcasing Reeb's songwriting with very little embellishment. His introspective lyrics are laid on a bed of acoustic guitar backed occasionally by violin or muted electric guitar. Reeb has a pleading vocal tone that is reminiscent of early Bill Mallonee, which brings the longing out of songs like ‘Oh, We Need A Change’ and ‘Consequences.’ Without The City Lights exhibits a singer-songwriter who wears his influences on his sleeve, but doesn't slide into mimicry. After spending recent years as part of a duo or band, Reeb is stepping forward with a well thought out album of songs that should serve him well as a foundation of a new phase in his career.