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Second Time Around - MIKE TRAMP

If you’re an American, you probably associate the name Mike Tramp with the band White Lion. In the mid to late 80’s, White Lion had a run of hugely successful singles on a few gold and platinum records. Since that band ended in the early 90’s, Mike Tramp, the wild-maned singer from the band has released 11 solo records. The Denmark native has also moved back home and currently resides on a farm on the countryside.

Being familiar with the White Lion material and not as familiar with Tramp’s solo work, I didn’t really know what to expect from this record. Tramp has consistently stated that his solo work is autobiographical, and a direct reflection of his feelings and opinions. He also appears to be in a farm-like setting with short hair and an acoustic guitar in more recent photographs. I knew I was going to get a piece of Mike Tramp’s heart and soul with this record, but I also thought I might get songs that are more Woody Guthrie than White Lion. After hearing Second Time Around about thirty times through now, I can say that I am pleasantly surprised by what I hear.

Photo: Jakob Muxoll

The record kicks off with an energetic rocker called “All Of My Life,” which is an autobiographical piece about Tramp’s desire and ability to support himself with his music from the age of fifteen. His life is one that is amazing and inspirational, and this song gives his story a triumphant voice. The chorus blows free and easy with the lyrics “I have been gone all of my life, my heart and soul for rock and roll, I gave up everything.” Those words are delivered by a voice that is filled with emotion and a grounded, organic genuineness. Upon hearing this track, I immediately felt as if Mike Tramp has found his real calling - he has found his real voice.

The second track is the first single from the album, and it’s a little bit more of what you might expect. Again, this is a story about Tramp’s musical journey, delivered in almost an R.E.M.-type of acoustic/electric simplicity that’s charming and natural. Throughout this record I felt like I was getting the real Mike Tramp, as he has promised. I don’t know if this is more Woody Guthrie than White Lion, but I can confidently say that it’s more Bruce Springsteen than Woody Guthrie. None of these songs drag or get boring. Each song is sung by a guy that’s feeling every word of what he’s singing. In the spirit of guys like Springsteen, Van Morrison, or Tom Petty, it’s pure and genuine. Ironically enough, it feels like a real slice of “Americana” rock and roll to me.

The production is really excellent here, too. The band sounds sonically full and it’s engineered perfectly. The production on the backup vocals are something that really stands out to me. The fill out the sound of their respective songs and they are perfectly placed. Some of the great rockers that stand out for me are “All Of My Love,” “Come On,” “Between Good And Bad,” and “No Tomorrow”. The guitar part in “Between Good And Bad” really reminds me of classic Thin Lizzy, and “No Tomorrow” is about as close to White Lion as Tramp gets these days, and I personally think this is better than just about anything from those long gone days.

There are some great tender moments to sink into here as well. “When She Cries” might be the most personal of the softer stuff, but the rhythm and mood on “Anymore” and “Highway” are really intoxicating. Also, I think it’s these are the songs that really show us home much Tramp’s voice has matured. In the White Lion days everything seemed to be a buffet of higher pitch served with a large goblet of whine. These songs are the meat and potatoes; a little bit gritty and soulful, and yes, genuine. 



Photo: Jakob Muxoll

Listen to Mike Tramp talk about Second Time Around and his road through a life of music. Click the play button on the player below to listen now!!

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