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CD REVIEW: Michael Tracy - Gonna' Smile

by: Cyrus Rhodes




Artist: Michael Tracy
Album: Gonna’ Smile

Label: Spectra Records

Genre: Soul Rock, Blues, Pop, Jam Band, Singer/Songwriter
Sounds Like: Keith Urban, Todd Rundgren, Peter Frampton, Phil Vassar, Mark Wills, Joe Nichols

Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Commercial Value: 10/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 8/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: Enough Small Talk, Fashion and Fame, Wait for Me, Sing Together, Gonna Smile

Weakness: One short sided song.




Michael Tracy lives outside of Charlotte, NC with his wife and two children.   Since his debut 2011 album release, "Enough Small Talk", he has played hundreds of shows, won awards, and has performed with Styx, Foreigner, George Thorogood, Don Felder, Jefferson Starship, Dokken, & Zach Meyers (Shinedown). Focusing on his own brand of American Rock & Roll laced with timely, poetic lyrics; he has become one of the South East's finest acts. Michael has been featured on: ClearChannel Radio, CBS Radio, WBBT TV, The Charlotte Observer, The Rock Hill Herald, The Monroe Enquirer, Shutter16 Mag, & Creative Loafing. Michael recently signed with Spectra Music Group to release Michael's album "Gonna Smile" & EP "Hopeful" in 2015.


The CD takes flight with “Old Paperback Novels” an upbeat, rocked-out guitar groove that serves up driving rock rhythm against slamming movement, impressive Rock fretwork and well placed vocals/harmonies from Tracy. Track 2 “Enough Small Talk” takes it up a notch with its no holds barred feel and slamming guitar solo that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. Track 3 “Fashion and Fame” keeps thing moving in the right direction with its steady flowing rhythm, hooky chorus, and impressive Saxophone solo via surging finale. The CD makes a great first impression dashing out 3 solid tracks in a row. I would classify this music as modern rock with a catchy side of Pop-Rock, R&B, and Singer/Songwriter style. Despite this the music has an old school rock jagged edge. Along the way you will notice impressive instrumentation layered along the way with things like impressive solo guitar, Saxophone, Organ, Keyboards, Piano, rocked out rhythm guitar, well placed harmonies all built upon a thick as a brick solid rhythm section to boot. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. Now turning our attention over to Tracy, as for his vocal abilities, his voice works extremely well within the confines of this rock based  catalogue. He’s got a good rugged look, and knows how to sit deep within the pocket and sing a song with raw power. His voice goes down smooth and fills the space peacefully and unobtrusively with an infectious jagged edge. He's got good vibrato, impressive timbre, power and control all around. The songwriting is world class, harmonies and melodies are well placed and well crafted. All the Engineering aspects are in check (Recording, Mixing, Mastering) as the CD possesses solid low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity. The Musicianship is world class and delivers everything you would expect from a Top-Tiered Rocking-Blues Pop Production. The music reminds me of a combination between Keith Urban and classic Todd Rundgren. Other comparable artists for me include Phil Vassar, Peter Frampton, Mark Wills and Joe Nichols. All songs are well crafted and consistent across the board. From methodical “Red Sky” to grooving “Wait for Me” and “Sing Together” to heartfelt “Raven” to striking “Ever Old Ever New” to rock steady “Carolina” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with “Devil Dancing” the perfect finale statement for a CD like this.  


All songs under 3 minutes feel like incomplete statements to me.


From start to finish “Gonna' Smile” by Michael Tracy is an impressive musical release period! The music is grooving, upbeat and entertaining. The songwriting – all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair and signature groove. The writing, playing and singing abilities of Michael Tracy and his red hot band are rock solid. The artistic presence from Tracy is impressive and his overall persona is something many folks (especially females) should gravitate towards.    


Cyrus Rhodes