Gilliam Michael is a singer-songwriter from the San Francisco area who recently released Love & Loss & In Between. Love & Loss & In Between is an album strictly comprised of acoustic guitar and vocals. The energy throughout these eleven songs feels almost identical especially upon the first listen or two. Sure sometimes Michael strums chords but the egocentric melancholy feels ubiquitous amongst the eleven tracks.
The songs focus almost solely on the “I” instead of the “you” or “us.” Michael prefers to lament his own sorrows with the spotlight pointed directly at him. Instead of making the listener feel solace for their melancholy it felt more geared towards feeling sympathy and empathy to his experiences.
The title of the first song “The Way I Feel” is indicative of the perspective he writes his songs from. He sings, “And the way I feel / Is only real I know / It’s only real for me / Opened up my heart / Felt a little spark / But it wasn’t meant to be.” There is just as much melancholy in his voice as there is in the lyrics.
The comparison to Neil Young is undeniable on “Human Feel.” His inflection feels dead on when he sings the verse. Michael explores a contemporary topic of human connection versus a digital connection. As the album progressed the topics changed just a little more than the energy did. “Distance & Time,” “Fool For Love Again,” “Love That Never Comes Is Here To Stay” and “First Love” all dance around lost love and loneliness. In fact the major theme that starts to emerge is heartbreak and not being able to get over it.
After spending some time with this album I got the impression Love & Loss & In Between was almost a form of therapy for Michael. That's all well and good but sometimes this can backfire in that you can start to forget about the listener. I can’t say Love & Loss & In Between is an easy listen because it’s not. You really have to be in the right mood for the thick coat of melancholy that Michael paints on these songs. I would say that if you enjoyed one of his songs you would enjoy them all. The one thing I would encourage Michael to do is have some variation in his songs. It doesn't have to be major but a song with some additional instrumentation like a violin or even an additional vocalist would help break things up a bit.
Love & Loss & In Between is a solid effort with heartfelt lyrics although I hope to eventually hear an upcoming album where he finds the love he seems to have lost.
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