July 27, 2021 Mike Tramp – Everything Is Alright (Album Review)
A Folk Rock storyteller, lion of Hair Metal, troubadour of Classic Rock, and a nomad who pours his soul into his art. Label Mr. Mike Tramp as you like, but first, take a listen to his latest anthology, Everything Is Alright. Culled from his oeuvre of solo material, the songs throughout the LP represent Tramp’s minimalistic approach to Rock-n-Roll that is immediately familiar, welcoming listeners with open arms. And it arrived to happy ears on May 21, 2021 thanks to SPV / Target Records / Believe.
It was roughly one year ago that we last heard from Tramp when he delivered the remake collection Second Time Around. So while most of us were sitting home in sweats, pretending to organize our homes during quarantine, the former White Lion and Freak of Nature frontman was clearly marinating in inspiration. Of course, when you have over 30 albums to your name and a career spanning four decades, it would be nearly impossible to flip the switch and shut down your creative juices. Thus, the mastermind behind 1997’s Capricorn, 2004’s Songs I Left Behind, 2014’s Museum, and 2019’s Stray from the Flock allowed his passion to burn ever brighter.
So, yes, Everything Is Alright is, indeed, a kind of “Best Of” package. With 10 tracks that pay homage to the singer-songwriter’s minimalistic Classic Rock style, one that incorporates elements of Blues Rock, Country grit, and Folk storytelling, the anthology delivers the perfect introduction to Tramp’s solo career if you’ve been sleeping behind the wheel. Or, if you’re a long-time fan, it’s a welcome reminder of the glorious past and proof that time cannot dampen passion.
Those familiar with Second Time Around have recently heard one of the tracks, “The Road,” which is a solid representation of what you will find on Everything Is Alright. In fact, many of the selections appear in a semi-acoustic format, such as rocker “Trust In Yourself” and ballad “Cobblestone Street.” The former is a truly stunning, minimalist composition that could be deemed a protest song, while the latter is a trip back to simpler times and the places we come from. Touching in its wistful nostalgia, “Cobblestone Street” might find Tramp longing for his native Copenhagen, but it taps into a universal theme that goes far beyond borders.
It is this sense of humility and candid reflection that permeates everything the singer-songwriter touches. So even when Tramp is (almost) fully electrified, there is still no ego-stroking or studio trickery; just a musician with oodles of heart. We see this when he channels his inner Tom Petty for album opener “Give It All You Got,” as well as when he allows his band to take the spotlight for the title track, “Everything Is Alright,” which is the only new offering on the disc. Similarly, we find more joyful camaraderie on the dusty little jam “If I Live Tomorrow,” amid the meandering melodies of “Dead End Ride,” and embedded in the sultry bass backbone of “Coming Home.”
Of course, above all else, Tramp is a storyteller. He flexes these skills throughout all of his records, though here we see them clearest on tracks such as the aforementioned “Trust In Yourself,” “Take Me Away,” and “More To Life Than This.” His stories are the cohesive knot that ties the collection together, painting a realistic picture of the unavoidable pitfalls of life that must be overcome through perseverance. In this, he does not turn away from discussion of the human condition and the many ways in which we suffer, and he refuses to paint a picture with frilly yet toxic positivity. His songs are a reflection of his personal ethos: old-fashioned values, avoiding superficiality, and simply being real. Sure, the singer-songwriter allows flourishes of his eclectic musical influences to creep into his work as an homage to those who made him the artist he is today, but he keeps his overall approach grounded in simple, no frills Rock-n-Roll.
So while other musicians might be asking you to take sides in a partisan war, Tramp, he’s focused on the wistful memories of better times and simple, good-spirited Rock-n-Roll. There’s something to be said for authenticity and a lack of flashy posturing, and that something is what makes Everything Is Alright so enjoyable. Like wool socks, hot cocoa or a childhood friend, Tramp’s collection is immediately familiar, welcoming, and allows its listeners to slip into a state of relaxation that promises that, though there will always be problems, for the moment, everything is just fine. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Mike Tramp’s Everything Is Alright 5 of 5 stars.