(Private Mind Records)
Hey gang, this is a very nice album. This Time is Mike Shupp’s third solo release and it is aimed squarely at the widening Adult Contemporary/Pop Rock crowd. Mellow R.E.M., Tom Petty, Wallflowers or Del Amitri fans will want to own this release. Shupp does a superior job of making perceptible and capitalizing on his refined songwriting talents, faceted musical abilities and singular singing style. Remaining lyrically sharp and frequently downright catchy, the bulk of the tunes center on the relationship/love interest theme. Truth is, about the only downside I could nitpick out of this entire 10 song set is that I seemed to grow slightly weary of this fact a little over half way through. I guess I was waiting for the “fun-lovin’ party rock” song or something. It never really came. Instead I got track 8, “Forgiven,” a down tempo and brilliantly moody lament on forgiveness. Actually, I enjoyed such a well-done surprise. It is worth noting that all the songs herein are quite strong. Better said, they are real and come across as honest and thoughtful. Shupp’s songs contain his outlooks on universal and timeless themes that will hold up well with any age group and against time itself. The actual passion of the performances in each song combined with the basic but quality recording production aid in presenting them in this realistic and earthy way. Absolutely zero fluff here.
Musically, the guitar work, if you listen closely, is ingenious. Shupp often chooses interesting chord voicings and subtle distinctive phrasing with the guitar parts. This does not cloud the tasteful vocal melodies or tromp over the other elements in the song. Instead, this quality draws you in to each of the songs’ overall vibe. Just as interesting is that Shupp performs all instruments here, except drums (aptly done by Chris Zogby). Something you’d never pick up on, save reading the liner notes. Seems that back in the day Mike Shupp was the guitarist in the early ’90s MCA Records band Big Bang Theory. He has since garnished regional and national airplay/gigs/press with his solo career. So, it seems to me Shupp’s due paying, and the life experiences that come along with it, have led him to this heightened level of straightforward no BS talent and his cohesive release This Time. I’ll close by simply suggesting that you grab a copy and enjoy it yourself.
— Tommy Mullins
( April, 2003 )
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