Album Review of
Once Upon a Different Time

Written by Joe Safari
July 12, 2016 - 12:00am EDT
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On “Once Upon a Different Time,” singer-songwriter Jamie Michaels crafts a collection of 11 genuinely felt folk tunes, mainly new ones but a few from the late ‘90s, with a touch of Celtic instrumentation and insightful lyrics. Included are songs about the romance of a traveling musician (“Singing for my Supper”), reflections on the past mingling with the present (“Once Upon a Different Time” – the title track), fret about the environment and the politics behind it (“Global Warming”), and even good old soul-eating guilt (“No Paddle Wheel”). The guitar, keyboard, gentle-drumming combination, with an occasional fiddle thrown in, allow the lyrics to stay up front. Much like the folkier side of Paul Simon, who seems a clear mentor, Michael’s lyrical skills allow him to be reflective and wry in his crafty word-play, if not as musically adventurous as Simon. In the love song “A Little More,” Michaels writes, with a wink to someone who knows a little about love songs: ‘This is the best of me, here is the best of me, now I’m getting all McCartney, all flowers and violins.’ The tunes throughout are always clever, mostly upbeat, but never sappy -- wine-sipping rather than beer-drinking music.