Michael-Ann 'Heavy Load' - Self Release

This appears to be the debut album from the LA based singer/songwriter who has been involved with the music scene for quite awhile. There is a mix of acoustic and electric throughout and Michael-Ann has co-produced with Randy Ray Mitchell. They both contribute on guitar with a selection of fine LA based players who include Phil Parlapiano on keyboards, Taras Prodaniuk on bass and Denis Caplinger pedal steel, banjo and resonator guitar among other string things. The drum chair is ably manned by Erik Eldenius.

However, topping all this is the mature and emotive voice of Michael-Ann, who can add the required grit and texture as the song needs. The songs, which are mostly uptempo and rockin’, go from the straight up country of Trail of My Tears, with pedal steel mirroring the flow of emotion, to the more bluegrass orientated I Would, a song that seeks a place of solace and love - it is easy to believe it’s an offer of salvation. And Day which opens the album is a song that speaks to the travails of the mundane aspects of daily survival. The music is brighter and more hopeful than the song’s lyrics might suggest. The title track looks for ways to share the load for those also “traveling down a winding road”. The reality of the blues is at the heart of some of the songs and that is underscored by the likes of Mama’s Sleepin’ a song with some sinister lyrical overtones. Never Mind is a plea for keeping your heart open and to follow it while you can. All of these attest to Michael-Ann’s ability with these songs, both as writer and singer. Bring It on Home, written by Eric Nelson, is the only song not written by Michael-Ann, yet it easily fits with the other songs as it emphasises the need to return to that place called “home” where you can find a little r ’n’r.

Overall this is a solid, accomplished, enjoyable album from a singer and writer who knows how to express her inner feelings in a way that uplifts and endures. It is Americana that is conscious of its roots but seeks to be as vital as possible in a world when much is fabricated just for fame. The production and playing is totally at one with the songs and so as the final song says What Don’t Kill Ya … well you know the rest. This album may well indeed make you that little bit stronger and as such Michael-Ann is helping to lighten a little that heavy load.