2020 has been a fraught year for music. Musicians, venue personnel and music lovers everywhere have put their lives on hold while the world takes tentative steps towards normalcy. A handful of inspired artists have taken the solitude as an opportunity to write and record. Legendary CT artist Michael Cleary has shut down his performance schedule for the foreseeable future to concentrate solely on writing, arranging and recording. In a season where we are so thirsty for fresh music, this album can't be more timely. Third Half had the honor of a preview, and we're very excited to share with you!
There's an unmistakable vein of nostalgia that runs through Last Man Standing that's both classic and multi-generational. As a full album listen, it is something of a paradox, like the man himself, it is brave and fearless, but shy and introspective. It's playful and bold, also serious and brilliantly understated. This is one of those rare albums where each song is your favorite, until the next one comes along.
"Would Ya" opens the album in an upbeat, hopeful vein. A song for us all in 2020, of escape- who doesn't need a permanent vacation right now?
"Lovin U Just Might" is the kind of song that makes you feel like you fell in love all over again, and after that "Wheel in Motion", a continuation of the story, a bookend that perfectly complements. This is the kind of love that gets over the honeymoon period and settles in to something deep, meaningful and lasting.
"Truest Love" has a fun, whimsical sound, it's a total ear worm, I guarantee you'll be humming it when you least expect. If I had to pick the smash hit, or my favorite from the record, this one, and the fifth track, "Just a Wave", would be vying for that place.
The song to describe the collective sigh felt around the world, the folky Americana styled "World On Fire".
The seventh track, "Turn To Love", picks up the vibe and poses a solution of unconditional love with am etherial feel. The electronic arrangement really puts the icing on this one. The super catchy "Road You're On Now" has a Midwest rock vibe and and a reminder that "this too shall pass"
A heartfelt power ballad, "I Don't Mind Dyin" has the feel of a song with a muscle car engine under the hood and the rainy backdrop of beautiful melancholy. "The Burden" keeps it going, and the driving beat will put the wind in your hair.
The title track, "Last Man Standing", was released as a single on Valentine's Day 2019, is a tender kiss goodbye, the closing of a chapter, and the opening of infinite doors.
Michael Cleary has long been known for well-written and tightly executed full band records, and Michael himself is an unstoppable force. To this end, it is hard to believe that Last Man Standing is Michael's first solo release since Call It What You Like (1991).
Self-produced and almost entirely recorded at his home base studio, this record shows where Michael shines as a producer, while delivering one fantastic performance after another, without compromise. A generous handful of the area's finest musicians and engineers support this album, and the result is a mesmerizing collaboration that will stay in the rotation in our CD changer for a long time.