The Washington Post

The Washington Post
Mike Shupp “The Key” review
Mike Shupp The Key (Private Mind Records)

Three years ago, Mike Shupp released his first solo album, a solid set of made-in-Virginia pop-rock. For its follow-up, Shupp traveled to Illinois, where he recorded with producer Jeff Murphy, whose Shoes helped define power-pop. Although Murphy’s contribution may not have been crucial – Shupp wrote the songs and played all the instruments except the drums – “The Key” shimmers even more appealingly than its predecessor.

Shupp was a member of Big Bang Theory, a local dance-rock band, but as a solo performer he’s abandoned funky rhythms in favor of such folk-rock mainstays as ringing guitars, high harmonies and heartbroken lyrics. He’s even appropriated the title of a classic Records tune, “Starry Eyes,” for one of his own songs. As such titles suggest, “The Key” doesn’t bust any precedents. But such buoyant songs as “Head on Straight” and “Right Through Me” compare well to the work of Shupp’s models.

— Mark Jenkins
( February 2nd, 2001 )
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