Solid songs a little lost in production
Reviewed November 2010
Michael Tiernan, the San Diego-based singer-songwriter who's been as active a presence on the local scene as anyone in town, shows tremendous growth on his new release, "L.A. Can Wait." As songwriter, as singer, as performer, he has taken another big step forward on his fourth recording, first since 2007's "Spaces."
L.A. Can Wait
By Michael Tiernan
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
Still, there's a nagging feeling listening to "L.A. Can Wait" that Tiernan is drifting away from developing his own voice, from fully trusting his own instincts.
The opening track, "Write Me a Love Song," opens like a mash between Bryan Adams and Richard Marx before devolving into a Coldplay knockoff. It's a highly polished, professional performance, as good as anything on the major labels, but it doesn't necessarily feel or sound like Michael Tiernan. Throughout the rest of the album, Tiernan seems to be trying to fit into existing formulas of popular acts from the alt rock, contemporary Christian and singer-songwriter charts.
Fair enough, Bryan Adams, Richard Marx and Coldplay have all sold far more records than Michael Tiernan has yet but as one of the great rabbis whose name eludes me once wrote, God doesn't repeat himself. So if we already have a Coldplay and a Richard Marx, do we really need more?
On his first three albums, Tiernan created a solid body of work and was well on his way to developing a Michael Tiernan sound. With strong songs on the new album like "Small Things," "Here" and the above-mentioned opening track, he had a tremendous opportunity to really further his music career an opportunity that seems a bit diffused by the attempts to remold his sound into something else.
Listening to "L.A. Can Wait," it's hard not to imagine how "Write Me a Love Song" would have sounded if it had been included on the "Spaces" CD, if it had that stripped-down approach that, say, the superb "Same Sky" did.
If it sounded like Michael Tiernan.
Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).