Review: Mike Tramp – 'Nomad'

When you go out on the road by yourself, there is no-one else to hide behind if it goes wrong. No bandmates to pick up the slack if you’re feeling rough or just not ‘feeling it’ at all that night. Mike Tramp went walkabout in the vast American continent three times in three years, just him and his guitar (along with a box of CDs and Tees…), traveling coast to coast soaking up all that the great American adventure could offer.

“Nomad” is the final part in a trilogy that began in 2013 with the stripped down, back to basics “Cobblestone Street” and continued with “Museum” in 2014. Two very personal albums from an artist that enjoyed all the trappings that came with platinum success with his band White Lion during the glory days of MTV-inspired Metal. There’s a bizarre and antiquated thought for you… MTV actually playing music, rather than creating an entire generation of Z-list celebrities!

The time spent in America has clearly rubbed off on Tramp, as the influences of some of the great American singer/songwriters can be heard throughout. Opener, “Give It All You Got” has a real Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers feel to it. That same effortlessly cool, low key drawl that Petty patented back in the 70s. By no means copying him, but definitely influenced by him. Tramp asks on the track:

Have you ever been beaten and broken, and you could not find your way?

and proceeds to tell us that life does indeed suck if you allow it to, before offering a glimmer of hope with the words:

“You can’t give up. You don’t give up. You give it all you got”.

One of the strongest tracks on the album, and one that benefits from a simplified West Coast sound.

“Wait Till Forever” is another great example of how trekking across America alone has helped Tramp mature as a performer. That organ-driven, laid-back sweet sound, that if it was recorded by Ryan Adams, the mainstream media would be all over it… but hey it’s Mike Tramp, so they’ll no doubt ignore it. “Bow And Obey” has an almost folky feel to it, like a modern day Bob Dylan protest song. Tramp utters in defiance:

“I will not bow and obey. No, I will not bow and obey”.

“High Like A Mountain” offers a cautionary tale on the perils of drug abuse, with a mid-song narrative about someone taking that first sip of alcohol without knowing where it will end up. On “No More”, Tramp has had enough of the current situation in the world today. On 24 hour news bombardment, he asks:

“What the hell is going on? Everybody has a gun. The world is spinning like crazy”.

It would be easy to think that “Nomad” is a bleak, melancholic album, but although the subject material might be mature and relevant to the modern day, songs like “Live To Tell” and “Who Can You Believe” are worthy of your attention, and Tramps’ vocals are still incredibly strong after all these years.

“Nomad” is released on August 28th, and Mike Tramp will be touring extensively in support of it during September.

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Review: David Stott


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