Michael Shynes - Lifeline
Record Label: Garden State Records
Release Date: 11 May 2012
Sometimes, after a long day at work, a stressful week with the in-laws, or a successful attempt at putting your restless kid to sleep, all we want is some nice, simple, relaxing music that can effortlessly put us at ease or help us feel content. With Lifeline, Michael Shynes presents a solid acoustic/alternative record that one can imagine listening to while leaning back in a cozy armchair on a sunny afternoon with a fresh mug of coffee at hand. It gives that same feeling of smooth relaxation and contentment. An album that largely features consistently good piano work and reflective themes penned by Shynes, Lifeline is a simple but solid effort, and with some diversity thrown into the mix to boot, it's one alternative music fans will be able to appreciate.
Lifeline begins with "Fresh Water in the Sun," and from the introduction alone it's an uplifting song. A mix of various instruments and his mellow but impactful voice, the song is a good look into what Shynes's talent is like, while also adding something refreshing to that tried and tested so-called singer/songwriter style. It's certainly one of the album's standouts. That said, there are songs on the album where Shynes does belt out that one-two punch style of acoustic guitar and piano, such as "Lifeline," "Sailship," or "Carolina." However, while they do stick to the familiar and bare bones formula, they are stil no doubt solid songs. The production on the album is impressive, as is the instrumentation. Every piano key and guitar string is perfectly audible and all the music blends together well. Shynes is no doubt a consistent talent, and his songs are sure to have you nodding your head out of appreciation for his good work.
Shynes makes a few other attempts to shake in some diversity to Lifeline. "A Moment of Honesty" is, unsurprisingly, a stripped down song where Shynes tells a personal story honestly and intimately. There's a folk-like sound to it, giving off a personal and honest touch, as the name suggests. The lyrics are likewise intimate. "My legs are knee-deep in some dried-up concrete / and a tailor's tied up my tongue. / And I'm drunk. / But I'm thinking clear / when I'm drunk. / Just trying to be sincere." They're not the most well-wrtitten of lyrics, as is the case with the rest of the album, but they still seem to go hand in hand with the effort to give off that feeling of intimacy and simplicity. "High Resolution Color" features quite a bit of lead electric guitar work, surprising and initially a little confusing, but the effort at standing out is acknowledged. "Believers and Lovers" is a beat heavy song and to me has a kind of pop/R&B style to it, making me think of the similar style popular in the nineties, such as LFO. It's not necessarily bad, it just feels a bit out of place.
Michael Shynes is an honest and hardworking artist, that much can be seen. His lyrics may not show him pouring his heart and soul out in terms of their creativity, and neither the individual songs nor the album as a whole will have you jump out of your chair out of their originality, but Lifeline is a successful and heartfelt alternative record nonetheless. The mixture of Shynes's warm voice, good amounts of acoustic guitar here and there, and of course, a heck of a lot of piano everywhere make for a simple and well-made album that is refreshing to listen to. The first track is called "Fresh Water in the Sun," the last "The Warmth," and Michael Shynes's music really does give one a feeling of warmth and contentment, like the feeling of a life well lived. Lifeline is a simple alternative album, but it's a good one. It's enough.