CD REVIEW: Michael Ackermann - Cole Porter Blues
By: Cyrus Rhodes
"pure & genuine"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST:-
Artist: Michael Ackermann
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Piano Vocal Jazz, Acoustic Jazz, Pop Rock
Sounds Like: Joe Henry, Van Morrison, Randy Newman, Daniel Gray
Technical Grade: 10/10
Weakness: Think German Accent, Repetitive vocal delivery, lyrics lost in
German singer/songwriter Michael Ackermann releases his debut full length CD “Cole Porter Blues” in 2010. Influences include Sting, Mr. Mister, Joe Henry, Van Morrison, Randy Newman, & Daniel Gray. His EP entitled “Kite” which was released in 2009 was primarily a piano driven album but revived its fair share of positive reviews.
The CD kicks things off with “Not long for this World” a gentle flowing intro piece that serves up soothing jazz piano accents against well placed saxophone, driving jazz/rock rhythms & melodic chorus from Ackermann. Track 2 “How Long” presents a passionate piano/vocal intro from Ackermann that culminates into a highly melodic rock groove, with an impressive musical build & vocal finale. Track 3 “Sailing through the Storm” serves up an amazing musical groove, with impressive jazz piano accents, against a solid low end groove that peaks & valleys it’s way through fruition. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical textures reminiscent of classic acts as Randy Newman, STING, TOTO, & Van Morrison, Joe Cocker. As the CD slowly unfolds you will notice most of the songs are very conservative in nature, with lush layers of musical instrumentation layered everywhere. I would classify this music as acoustical vocal jazz that goes down smooth, & fills the sonic space with peaceful tranquility. The musicianship provides a lot of musical variety, & make no bones about it - this band is as good as it gets. You will also notice brief splashes of percussion, clarinet, cello, violins, drums, saxophone, stand-up bass, trumpet, trombone, saxophone, & sizzling Jazz piano accents along the way. All in all the CD has some truly impressive musical moments on it, showcasing impressive lyrical content displaying priceless conventional wisdom, & world class musicianship to boot. Ackermann’s vocal style reminds me a lot of a German version of Joe Cocker or Van Morrison. From passionate pieces “Absolutely no one to Blame” to songs possessing classic rock/ jazz ambience “Cole Porters Blues” to carefree songs “All There is” to songs that possess priceless wisdom like: “Five Years On”, & “Man of no Tomorrow” to my personal favorites “Bye Bye Bye” & “Kite” this CD has something for just about everyone. It’s definitely a fully loaded musical production from start to finish with superb musicianship, amazing lyrical content, & rich conventional wisdom sung to us from a deeply honest perspective that is 100% pure & genuine.
Although Ackermann’s baritone works, it’s fair to say it’s nothing spectacular. Over time his thick German accent takes a major toll on the listener. Eventually you come to a place where you just roll with it. Like the aforementioned Ackermann's band is truly world class, but there's a lot lost in translation with respect to Ackermann’s music, vocals & thick German accent. As a result the songs fail to make the vital (singer to listener) vocal connection simply because you cannot understand what he's singing about. I would recommend Ackerman sing his songs in his native German tongue unless he can get the accent issue under control . Ackermann's melodic phrasing is also extremely choppy & erratic note for note, song for song lacking creativity & at times doesn't synch well with his band. At the end of the day it lacks fullness, melodic depth & variety. It’s almost like he’s speaking the notes to you. Over time this repetitive vocal style caused me to become somewhat disenchanted with the catalogue 20 minutes into the experience. All songs over 4 minutes tend to drag tend to drag you to the finish line. I know this is a highly subjective art form, but all the aforementioned issues have a big affect the CD's overall marketability. If this review seems a bit lopsided, it' merely reflects the extremes presented on "Cole Porter Blues."
Overall Cole Porter Blues is in itself a very consistent & fully loaded musical production. As an artist Michael Ackermann clearly possess a lot or personality, wisdom, & vocal passion. If he had an amazing vocal timber Ackermann would no doubt be well positioned to be in the deep end of the pool with acts like Sting, Randy Newman & Joe Cocker. Praise goes out to artists who are bold enough to just be themselves & let the chips fall where they may. Ackermann is one of these artists that shows us something very real & genuine beneath his veil of vanity A tip of the hat goes to Ackermann’s band - who deserves a lot of credit here for dishing out some of the most impressive musical chops I've ever heard. They are clearly accomplished jazz players & provide a lot of musical variety along the way. If could say anything to Ackermann right now it would be – get a world class vocal coach, & over time chip away at that thick German accent of yours. Don’t be afraid to step back from the microphone, find that pocket and slowly build your songs to a strong finale. If one could meet, or even hang out with Michael Ackermann it would no doubt be a charmed experience. He would eventually win you over with his passion, his wisdom, & his amazing Euro-charm. Eventually you would just find yourself singing along with him like you normally do during Karaoke night.
|All materials copywrite of www.imdiemusicdigest.com. (c) 2007-2009 Indie Music Reviews. All Rights Reserved|