Michael Lee // Face Forward // 18.10.10 // Crash Records

First appeared on Never Enough Notes on November 19 2010

Multi-instrumentalist Michael Lee was apparently inspired to take up music after a childhood in the sleep village of Longwick, Buckinghamshire. He started gigging at 14 and those long, quiet evenings in the countryside obviously led to him really enjoying learning his instruments and experimenting with different sounds.

Face Forward is a collection of Lee’s best songs from over a number of years which means it has a lot of of variety but it is confusing at times as it jumps between genres ranging from pop to folk to prog rock. The twinkly guitar riffs and summery grunge on tracks like ‘Land of Change’ and ‘Never Enough Time’ make me think I probably wasn’t the only one listening to Incubus albums on repeat as a teenager and and enjoying their easy going vibe, but Lee’s more ballady tracks like ‘Tired’ and ‘Mystery of Life’ are less satisfying: ‘Slow’, unoriginal and a touch wingey.

Lee plays most of the instruments on Face Forward and produced it himself, a labour of love with is quite indulgent at times: Tracks like ‘Despite’ reflect this, and the epic Face Forward a prog rock wandering piece of music which is the most extravagant track on the album.

This one may be an album more for fellow musicians than people that just like to listen to good music without agonising over the nuances. Face Forward is not altogether a bad album but now Lee has got the mixed bag of old favourites out of the closet maybe he can look to the future, follow his own advice and Face Forward….sorry I couldn’t resist!


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