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Mike Breen | Past Lives

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United States - Arizona

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Folk: Modern Folk Country: Americana Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Past Lives

by Mike Breen

story songs with some fine guitar, mandolin and banjo
Genre: Folk: Modern Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Past Lives
4:09 $0.99
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2. Autumn Afternoon
5:15 $0.99
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3. The Little Things
2:56 $0.99
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4. State Fair
3:26 $0.99
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5. Yesterday's News
3:16 $0.99
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6. Corrs Medley
3:36 $0.99
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7. The Letter L
3:23 $0.99
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8. The Girl From Northern Maine
4:28 $0.99
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9. Sparkle Do
3:20 $0.99
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10. Home Again
3:00 $0.99
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11. Take A Little Time
2:29 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Produced and Recorded by Mike Breen at Basilbone Recording, Phoenix, Arizona.
Featuring performances by Jenny Young, Ron Rutowski, Ken Skaggs and Stacy Breen.

“It’s always a pleasure to hear an independent CD that delivers the goods past the first cut. And this release from Breen is such an example. On the title cut “Past Lives,” Mike courts re-incarnation as he dreams he was a priest in 1862. His current love interest appears in the dream as a nun from Avignon, bringing up the questions about whether we always regroup each life with the same souls.
Breen continues with his talent for painting flashbacks with “Autumn Afternoon” as a man recalls courting a waitress with a special smile, who later became his wife. The CD insert adds to the nostalgic mood with its backdrop of faded old family pictures behind the lyrics Unlike any other attempts at this visual, the idea succeeds without making the words illegible.
Beyond glances back to courting, Breen covers other topics. “The Little Things” involves the realization of how your child isn’t a child anymore. He sings of the fun at State Fairs and the rekindling of former romances.
Mike Breen can use the voice of a choirboy at times. His singing is clear and not buried in the mix. His sturdy mandolin control shows how he is capable but not overpowering. Although the cut “Corrs Medley” is an Irish flavored instrumental most of the musical backing leak hints of his bluegrass past. The mandolin, tenor banjo and guitar licks are all his. Additional electric violin and cello are added, as well as Ken Skaggs’ pedal steel and vocals from Stacy Breen.
This is an independent release worth attention. - AP Sing Out - vol. 45 #1.


"Few days in most lives are marked by public, or even private, high drama. Fewer still are either celebrations or cataclysms. The lyrics of popular songs, however, understandably stress drama, romance, exultation,
even dejection in simple, high-contrast terms suitable for low-attention mass diversion, fast food for the ear. For those hungry for more modest, realistic, and compelling musical storytelling, "Past Lives," the second
release from Phoenix's Mike Breen, is just the dish. Breen's lyrics, evoking the intimate warp and woof of life, are set in infallibly attractive and catchy melodies supported by amiable acoustic instrumentation of understated mastery, and are animated by his gentle
tenor, expressively reminiscent of James Keelaghan's deeper vocal. "Past Lives" is a sort of theme album, revolving about an appreciative and joyful, rather than regretful and tragic, nostalgia, and affords Breen an opportunity to display his rare flare for organically matching words and music.

On the title track, acoustic and slide guitar fanfare leads into a cunningly crafted first-person narrative of that reassuring sort of reincarnation in which you and your comrades remain together through idylls, wars, and into the present. "There is no end": a concept simultaneously appealing and appalling. The sentimental appeal of Breen's
lyrics on "Autumn Afternoon," the immediacy of two young people falling unexpectedly in love in a diner, is so credible that one nearly overlooks the subtle beauty of melody and music, especially the quietly jangling
banjo; the dawning revelation that this all happened a half-century ago can't help but provoke a smile. "The Little Things" is a compositional triumph, and a nice song as well, with just the right touch of dissonance in the verses to express the anxiety of a father as his son drives off on
his first date, the chorus nostalgic yet hopeful over the surprising speed at which children grow. Another intriguing song of active nostalgia, "State Fair," is a very southwestern take on one of America's autumn
institutions, reminiscent of both Ray Bradbury's writing and Neil Young's most unaffectedly effective song, "Sugar Mountain."

Strategically placed at the center of "Past Lives," the instrumental "Corrs Medley" builds from slow yearning to quick festivity, featuring Breen's guitar and mandolin, and Ron Rutowski's visiting fiddle. "The Letter L" is
a charming and clever alphabet song for adults, Breen coyly orbiting the central challenge and joy of intimacy, subtly ratcheting up the stakes through the letters, but never quite reaching Z. Breen's guitar and mandolin join Ken Skaggs' pedal steel on the countrified music for "The Girl From Northern Maine," the tale of another long-failed love, this time bequeathing a tangible legacy, a daughter, who provides "one more chance" for "love to find a way." And old sweethearts two-step around the past in "Sparkle Do," contemplating relationship renewal; no denouement is ordained, but Breen's optimism, cautious with experience, is infectious and reassuring.

The care and artistry of "Past Lives," particularly Mike Breen's precise matching of music and lyric to create finely tuned moods, makes it a record worth hearing over and over."----Review by Jim Foley

"For those of you who are already fans of Mike Breen, no sales pitch is necessary, but if you have never had the exquisite pleasure of Mike's live performance, check him out ..."
Maxine Jewett, Publisher - ACOUSTIC SCENE http://www.acousticscene.com/

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