MIKE TRAMP
"Maybe Tomorrow"

(Mighty Music/Target)

01. Coming Home
02. It's Not How We Do It
03. Spring
04. Would I Lie To You
05. Rust And Dust
06. Leaving One Day
07. Time And Place
08. What More Can I Say
09. Why Even Worry At All
10. Maybe Tomorrow

RATING: 6.5/10

I hesitate to be "that guy" by starting this review as many writers no doubt have over the years when coming to a Mike Tramp project, but unfortunately, needs must. You're likely unaware that the Danish dynamo has done a ton of work outside of WHITE LION. That band had a quick, profitable run from 1985 through 1991 where "Wait" became the ultimate lovesick puppy's cry jam. Dropping a final get-together album in 2008, "Return of the Pride", Mike Tramp and WHITE LION separated for good. Hardly loafing about in wait for the world to revive "Pride" as its rock du jour, following a brief run in his early 1990s band, FREAK OF NATURE, Tramp has steadily created solo music. Don't look now, people, but Mike Tramp is coming upon 40 years as a musician, considering his earlier bands MABEL and STUDS and including ├čthe release of his 10th solo album, "Maybe Tomorrow".

WHITE LION fans clinging to the past are likely to continue going hungry for new material, which does present a possible point of contention for Tramp coming into "Maybe Tomorrow", which is being released only a year after his last solo outing, "Nomad". Tramp states, "When people ask me, why I have made a new album and what it's about, I find myself dumbfounded or even lost for words. To me, what I do is who I am. It might have taken me quite a while to reach this place where I feel so at home, and also where I belong. A place where my music is simply an extension of who I am. It might not sound that interesting or mysterious! But in what other way can I express that my songwriting and music is the truthful life of Mike Tramp? I don't want to be anything else or try anything new. I am a torchbearer of my heroes and an offspring of my inspirations. I have not only moved away from the past, but I have grown and I have made my stand."

What's nice about Mike Tramp, all these years later, is his honesty and confidence. He has settled vocally, and any high-pitched squelching he was compelled to peel off during the WHITE LION days has matured into a sage, everyday rocker's intonation. Accordingly, his music on "Maybe Tomorrow" has settled into a country-based form of adult contemporary rock. This isn't to say "Maybe Tomorrow" is Barbara Streisand or Neil Diamond; it's more like Bruce Springsteen or John Mellencamp at their calmest. Consider that caveat or invitation.

When you have sedate song titles like "Coming Home", "Spring", "Would I Lie To You", "What More Can I Say" and "Leaving One Day", you can all but expect equally sedate tones to accompany them. Coming into "Maybe Tomorrow", you're equipped with the knowledge that Mike Tramp has created a sound space to clear his mind and recharge. If you're in search of the same, then "Maybe Tomorrow" is your safe zone. It's the safest set of songs you're likely to approach from a hard rocker, the new CANDLEBOX album notwithstanding.

There's not a lot of song-by-song description needed to convey the feel of "Maybe Tomorrow". Positively, Mike Tramp's vocals are terrific. "Rust And Dust" and "Leaving One Day" are the heaviest this album gets, and that's only because of the thick, turned-up riffs in the openings for both. That's about it. The rest, like the entire album, follows simplistic bass lines and strumming acoustic waves with organs playing howdy-do to keep this album wholly grounded. The piano-escorted "Time And Place" is this album's moment of grace. Here Mike Tramp lyrically bleeds all over it, pulling on a deeper heartstring than he ever did plying for tail on "Wait".

Not that WHITE LION was ever the heaviest band on the planet, but it's evident "Maybe Tomorrow" is strictly for Mike Tramp, who has family to tend to and a smaller stage to dog. To his credit, he could still be following his contemporaries' paths trying to emulate "Pride" and "Big Game" as if the way back playback is the subscription to longevity. "Maybe Tomorrow" isn't going to get Mike Tramp back to the fore of rock supremacy (albeit his 2014 album "Museum" peaked at number three on the Danish charts), but that's certainly not his motivation here. "Why Even Worry At All" says it all, lyrically and musically. "Would I Lie To You" is not the pumping, guitar-wreaked angst as the EURYTHMICS banged out ages ago. This is the sound of a guy trying to find a reason to smile in the mirror every day, and this unruffled, reflective album likely plants it firm.

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