Soulful, contemporary pop with a folky edge and a bit of piano led gospel thrown in for good measure perfectly describes some great new music I heard recently. This eclectic mix of sounds comes from the first full length album from Brighton based singer songwriter, Mi'das aka Mike Davies. I say first full length album as over the last few years, Mi'das has recorded enough EP's and singles for two or three albums but All Inside Your Head is his first proper album release.
Davies has a voice full of soul that easily adapts to folk, gospel and full on pop and All Inside Your Head has the songs to match that versatility of voice and this is probably explained by the fact that some of these songs have been with him for years, just waiting for the right recording vehicle to come along. I interviewed Davies while he was preparing for a short headline tour next month and asked him what the album title means (it's not the title of a track on the album). He quickly explained that it was originally a track on the album but although the song didn't fit, he still wanted to use the title for the album as whole as "it's about a way of looking at the world, sometimes things feel bad but sometimes it's all just inside your head". This approach to naming an album led me to ask why Mi'das and not Mike Davies and it turns out that he "just wanted a stage name, some artists I like had similar names". Writing this now I'm struck why I didn't ask if any of those artists were Wakey Wakey or Oktoba.
All the songs on All Inside Your Head were written in full or part by Davies and I'm always curious about other creative processes (fascinating!). Some of the songs had been with him "for years" and others came more recently but they were all started with an instrument and the melody - the lyrics came later. The album is full of different sounds from gospel to folk to soul and anyone listening won't be surprised to hear that amongst his influences, Davies lists Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles. In particular, Grace, Get On Up, If I Were You and Twilight are the 'big songs' and the ones where the influences work best. That being said, my favourite track is Justice, which opens the album. It's a big ballsy song and makes a powerful anthem against injustice in all forms. Maybe the fact that I'm writing this and listening to the song the day after the Hillsborough inquest means that I'm thinking more deeply about the meaning of justice but either way, it's a great song. The album ends with an eleventh track, a live recording of Everybody's Changing:
All Inside Your Head is an album full of soulful music which you feel has been lovingly crafted over a long period and it turns out that music that has been created with care and artistry is just the kind of music that Davies cites as good music. I asked what he would class as bad music as let's face it, everyone's idea of bad music is different. Ever asked someone what music they don't like and they name your favourite? Awkward! Davies said in response that for him, bad music is "music made with no thought or artistry in it; music whose sole purpose is to be sold as a product".
Creating music with no care or artistry is unlikely to be levelled at musicians on independent labels and sure enough, Mi'das has his own label. Not that he would ever be averse to singing a major record deal, he just wants to "get there by doing it myself and I haven't arrived at my destination yet". Being a musician for a long time means that Davies is aware of the flip side of signing to a major label, having seen others land seemingly great deals and then get dropped when targets aren't met. Having your own label is a sure fire way of avoiding that.
All Inside Your Head and Mi'das' May tour dates are available at www.officialmidas.com.
This first appeared on www.thoughtsofjustafan.com.