Acoustic guitarist and singer songwriter Mike Silver has been one of the best kept secrets in the music industry for along while now, as the sub title of his new album, Alchemy – 50 Years in Song attests to.  Fifty years making music with only the merest whiff of national fame and fortune along the way hardly seems possible but to those in the know, Mike is the real deal.  For the uninitiated, you have a treat in store.

For this celebration of fifty years of music, Mike has selected sixteen tracks from his previous nineteen albums, incidentally giving the impression that he could have chosen sixteen more with no problem, showcasing his evident song writing talent.  Paired with an honest, warm delivery, the album swims in intimacy, moulded together by producer Lauren Deakin Davies.  As well as acoustic folk tinged songs, Alchemy also covers genres such as blues, country and even a touch of upbeat pop.

Before you read on, Mike is giving a FREE download of “Not For You”, to Angry Baby readers. If you’re not already subscribed to Angry Baby, just pop the email address that you’d like it delivered to here and it will be on its way to you straight away, together with a bumper collection of music that has been shared by Angry Baby. The music comes from outstanding artists that you may not have heard before. With a mix of rock, pop, folk…you name it…there’s bound to be something new that floats your musical boat, and all for free! What’s not to like about that?!

Oh Doctor‘ was picked up and played by Cerys Matthews on BBC Radio 2 recently and it’s easy to see why.  Witty lyrics describe a protagonist who seems a right pain happily assassinating the characters of all the ‘beautiful people’ mentioned at the party.  ‘This Heart Sings‘ is a beautiful ballad and ‘JCB‘ brings out those blues in a wonderfully rhythmic love song.

One element that comes to the fore on this compilation is the songs relating to different humanitarian crises over the years.  From the plight of the Jews, pre-war, to South Africa under apartheid, not to mention relief ships for Palestine children, all are wound into intricate songs that stay with you afterwards.   As Mike himself mentions, “All of the songs included on this album have a special place in my heart for many and varied reasons.”  It’s easy to think that ‘Breaking the Silence‘, ‘Pretoria‘ and ‘Dove and the Dolphin‘ remain special due to the subject matter.  Including them here leads us to reassess the place that these songs have in the present, in some cases, long after the events took place;  does the focus on these events still matter?  Before these somewhat embattled times that we currently inhabit, you might have thought that protest songs would have gone by the wayside but the event and protests of the last few years have shown us that protest and music still go hand in hand.  These songs shed light on situations that are not necessarily still happening but are nevertheless relevant today.

Fifty years making music leads to a lifetime of experience and Mike’s advice for aspiring musicians reflects this:

“Remain true to yourself and what you want to do.  Only allow yourself to be influenced by people you trust and things you believe in.
The songs you write will mean something very clear to you as each one comes along, it is doubtful that anyone listening to them will see the meaning or hear the melody in the same way that you do. No amount of wishing or explanation is likely to change that.
Everybody has their own idea of how other people should play or sing or write or arrange. If someone else’s idea is positive within the format of what YOU want then its worth pursuing. If it is not you will find your music being moulded to someone else’s satisfaction and somehow taken away from you and out of your control. The end result will be a compromise or even worse, something that simply is no longer your own.

I do not read music. My life in music has been a voyage of discovery. Throughout most of it, I have watched other artists, seen how they play and tried to remember small parts of what they did, how they approach audiences and tried to learn from them. I have been hearing little guitar figures or riffs in my head and have then had to teach myself how to play them. Apart from three lessons I had aged 16, that is how I have worked on learning to play guitar. Music is never ending, that is its fascination for me and why I am still playing it.”

Alchemy – 50 Years in Song was released on March 22 on Folkstock Records. Get your copy here.

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