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Tramp, Mike: More to Life Than This

Former vocalist/songwriter of White Lion and Freak of Nature, Mike Tramp, has been doing solo albums since 1997. More To Life Than This marks his third record, excluding the Remembering White Lion compilation which consisted of re-recorded versions of his previous band. I can easily say that out of the three CDs, More to Life Than This is Mike Tramp's best offering to date. I still like Remembering White Lion the best, but I don't necessarily consider it a real solo album--it's more like a re-worked album by Tramp to me.

After a long search for labels, Tramp finally decided to ink a deal with the German indie label Ulftone and has released two albums in the last two years. Considering that we had to wait for five years for the release of Recovering the Wasted Years, it is quite a surprise to see his new label supporting him the best they can. While the previous album Recovering was good in its own right, it did contain some unfocused material that seemed unnecessary, and it lacked the punch in melodies, guitar riffs and solos, hooks, etc. On More to Life Than This, Tramp has obviously noticed this problem, since he got back to working with several talented guitarists: his old bandmate from Freak of Nature, Oliver Steffensen, the well-known guitarist Steve Lukather, the Danish axeman Wolfe, and one of the best guitar virtuoses to ever walk on earth, Eric Johnson. Needless to say it was a much anticipated change in Tramp's solo career, since some of his songs seemed to suffer in the lack of melodic hooks, sharp guitar solos and an overall more guitar-driven sound. The album starts off with the title track, which in my opinion is the best opening song in his solo career: both musically and lyrically. It deals with various subject matters, stuff with more substance. More thought provoking ideas. Tramp wrote some of the best lyrics in his former bands White Lion and especially Freak of Nature, and honestly I was a little disappointed when his solo albums, despite being mature, were a bit too single-minded. They were introspective, moody, personal, but also a bit too average by Tramp's standards. So, I welcome this song all the way. The depiction of once-a-rock-star's life and the current condition of rock'n'roll music is awesome. It's a much better way of writing than composing songs titled "Rock'N'Roll Forever" or "Don't Take My Rock".

Some of the songs still sound like Tramp's first two albums, with the vocals being very focal, lots of melodic choruses, which can be a tad repetitive at times, though not to bore the listener. This is good melodic rock music with one of my most favourite singers in the world. Tramp has got a very emotional voice and he never fails to deliver with the utmost sentiment. The fact that Steve Lukather has played quite a few solos on the album pushes this CD a step ahead from the others. Mike also experiments a bit on this album. I love it when he tries to do different things, because the outcome is invariably impressive. It's a shame he isn't as experimental as he was back in the FON days. The song "Nothing At All" features keyboards and Tramp's bare vocals with some layered synth effects. It's not really something I'd like, but it suits the album very well. Moreover we hear a Danish female singer who actually duets with Mike. It's not the typical background female vocals like the ones on "Running out of Life"--this time Mike and her really duet. It's not the best song on the album, but a very bold attempt on Mike's part. The best track, however, is the closing song "The Good The Sad And The Ugly" featuring Eric Johnson on guitars. Not only is it my favourite song on this album, this is perhaps Tramp's angriest and most aggressive track since FON. The dynamics in this composition are really fluid and Tramp's articulation hits hard. The song makes references to his loved ones, his wife; his fans; his friends, perhaps his counterpart from White Lion, Vito Bratta. Though that's just my intuition, I could be wrong. No matter what Mike had on his mind when writing his dark album, I think he has released his best solo album to date. I hope he continues to work with high calibre guitar players to keep up his performance.

Track Listing

  1. More to Life Than This
  2. Lay Down My Life for You
  3. Dont Want to Say Goodnight
  4. Nothing At All
  5. Day by Day
  6. Live for Today
  7. Back from the Dead
  8. I Wont Let Go
  9. Goodbye Song
  10. The Good the Sad and the Ugly

Added: February 5th 2006
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Mike Tramp website
Hits: 3280
Language: english

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