Bay Area aficionados may be familiar with Mike Sempert as the songwriter and frontman of indie pop outfit Birds & Batteries. It came as quite the surprise to his followers when he recently released his debut solo LP, Mid Dream. And proving the old adage that there’s nothing quite as refreshing as change, this is one surprise which has been received warmly Stateside.
Taking inspiration from classic studio music of the 1970s, artists the likes of Gram Parsons, John Lennon and Fleetwood Mac have all shaped the the musical persona of Sempert, ensuring a unique blend to his personal stamp as he ventures forth with no trepidation onto the path of solo progression.
Mid Dream feels very much like a representation of the transition from which it was born-written in the build up to his move from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, and if you’re familiar with the electro-pop sound of Birds & Batteries, then you too may be pleasantly surprised with the overriding sound of Mid Dream.
Whilst this album will be seen as a bold change in direction for Sempert, it may well prove to be a more than welcome one. The sound is far more organic than what you may expect based upon what we know about the artist-it’s certainly captivating, perhaps more endearing than what has gone before. The album is brimming with beautiful heavy melodies and the kind of singer/songwriter soul we only truly get from a solo artist.
Finest Line is the track which perhaps best illustrates that soft diversity. A curious opening broken by the almost sparkling twang of melodic soft guitar, becoming dominated by that distinctly powerful and overriding, yet soft and harmonic vocal. Set superbly to a dreamy, slow motion video, if you were to close your eyes the deserted beach scene is exactly what your senses would conjure even without slow-mo accompaniment.
As far as musical values are concerned, the album represents a natural progression for Sempert whilst he steadfastly holds to his Bay Area roots, not least through the collaboration of Birds & Batteries bandmates Colin Fahrner and Jill Heinke, contributing bass and drums respectively.
The LP flows like the breeze, taking its natural course and whispering its message effortlessly whilst holding you close with an almost brotherly arm around your shoulder.
Final offering, Recovery sums the collection up rather well, dropping to a tone and tempo perfect for which to sign off with. Delivered at such a tempo, and with this energy Sempert’s vocal takes on a sound which is remarkably similar to that of Chris Martin-to the point at which it becomes rather difficult to escape that image. Undoubtedly an unintentional coincidence, and by no means an unfortunate one-perhaps this is the music Chris Martin should be singing?
The track meanders beautifully like a story unfolding through subtle yet captivating background harmonies. Wonderful guitar sounds adorn the track from start to end, soaring from midway and set against the perfect percussion backdrop.
The track is perhaps the perfect metaphor for the album-music for any season.
It remains somewhat unclear as to Sempert’s intentions as a soloist. Based upon the factual evidence provided by Mid Dream, it should be hoped that there’s much more to come.
Mid Dream is available right now through Velvet Blue Music.
Check out the video to Mike Sempert’s Finest Line.