Andy Michaels’ new album Incendiary Heart
Sharon Court’s voice makes merry with a blushing beat when “Planet 8” begins to play, but for as powerful a moment as her first few lines create in this brilliant song from Andy Michaels’ new album Incendiary Heart, it pales in comparison to the chill-inducing energy that we discover immediately after pressing play on “I Can Fly,” the track that comes directly before it on the record. Wedged between Court’s collaboration and a song featuring Carolyn Thomas in “Sticks and Stones,” “I Can Fly” feels like the proper conclusion to Incendiary Heart where “Planet 8” is more of an epilogue, but no matter what order these songs are played in, I found them to be unapologetically evocative on every level that matters. Michaels is willing to pull out whatever stops he has to in his all-new LP, whether that means making layered vocal harmonies in “Humming Bird” or engaging in duets that verge on some ultra-provocative territories in “Sticks and Stones,” and as I see it, his efforts produce some of his best work so far and then some.
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“Only Change Stays the Same” and Kerry Ironside’s “The Flame” feel like two sides of the same sonic coin, and though they’re structured around an entirely different creative premise than “Night and Day” is, I think this trio of songs are the only inseparable bunch on the album. Michaels gets alarmingly raw with us in “Night and Day,” and where his words create a hollow dissonance that lingers on, into “The Flame,” Ironside’s construction of the track’s main melody makes the transition into a relatively peaceful “Only Change Stays the Same” hiccup-free.
“This Songs for You” is more of a segue piece from the humble “Rambling Man” into the darkness of “Night and Day,” the former of which probably being my favorite Andy Michaels song at the moment, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this sequence of tracks leaves something to be desired when compared to the implied first and third acts in Incendiary Heart. This was obviously a methodical project for Andy Michaels, and personally I think his emphasis on even the most minor of details is admirable both critically and artistically in today’s ragtag culture of pop music.
Tiarna Madison makes her first appearance on Incendiary Heart with “Emerald Eyes” before divvying out more of her signature charms in the title track, and I think that she was perfect for both of the songs she plays a part in. She, Ironside, Thomas and Court are all fantastic counterparts to Michaels’ leading voice in the record, and by interspersing the collaborative tracks amidst the solo numbers like “Only Love Knows the Meaning of Goodbye” and “Fireflies,” we’re able to appreciate the vast textures available to us in this music all the more. The music video for “Darling It Hurts” completely captures the essence of the energy that makes its parent album so hard to put down, and though it came out in 2019, it feels like one of the first really important videos of the New Year. There’s a lot of good things ahead for this singer/songwriter, and I’ll be looking forward to hearing more from him as 2020 progresses.