Mike Hale - Lives Like Mine (Cover Artwork)

Mike Hale

Lives Like Mine (2009)

Suburban Home

If there is one growing "trend" (for lack of a better word) going on in the punk scene lately, it's the growing number of acoustic-based singer/songwriter acts emerging. Most of these acts are lead singers of bigger-named bands (Hot Water Music and Avail, for example). And what most of these acts go for sound-wise are an Americana/folk sound (Chuck Ragan and Tim Barry). But Mike Hale of Gunmoll and In the Red fame is one of the few not going for that sound with his acoustic act.

His first album, the Asian Man-released Broken with No Hope, was a damn good effort. Some songs I felt could have easily been used for Gunmoll songs, only if sped up. It was filled with heart-wrenching/soul-searching ballads. His followup here, Lives Like Mine, is just as heart-wrenching and, at times, depressing.

One thing that makes this album stick out the most for me is the production. The guitar work is very different; it has the perfect mix to help deliver the songs (the bright reverb heard in most of the pieces), and even the piano-played pieces (which were not on his first album). But what works great with Hale's music in this album is the use of Alyson Seconds (Kevin Seconds' wife). Her backup vocals help provide the balance it needs to accompany the gruff voice Hale uses. The combination of the two voices really works, especially on the title track and "Places Everyone" (my favorite off this album).

The whole album, to me, just feels like one bearing his soul, full of angst and heartbreak. It's haunting and beautiful at the same time. It also feels that Mike Hale is growing as a songwriter even more. It should be very interesting to see where he goes from here on his next album.