Let Me Fly, the second album from Mike + The Mechanics to feature the current line-up, highlighting the soulful voice of (co-)lead vocalist Andrew Roachford, is a bit of a disappointment, considering how much talent and energy Mike Rutherford’s long-time, Genesis "side project" has had over the decades.
When I reviewed The Singles 1985-2014 last year, I noted how great much of the earlier and mid-period Mike + The Mechanics material was (when Paul Carrack and Paul Young shared vocal duties on albums like The Living Years), but once the Roachford-led years rolled around "(t)here is a somewhat pedestrian feel to the Roachford material. And that’s not to say his singing isn’t up to par – it is. Rather, Rutherford doesn’t seem as engaged …"
With co-singer Tim Howar, the Let Me Fly material is a mixed bag. The title track doesn’t quite take off as one would hope (with Roachford on lead vocals), while the Rutherford, Roachford and Clark Datchler (former singer with Johnny Hates Jazz)-penned "Wonder" has an 80’s-era Bruce Hornsby pop feel about in its musical arrangement, but is lyrically about someone who cannot seem to commit.
Howar takes full control on "Don’t Know What Came Over Me," which has a mid-tempo pop-rock vibe that isn’t exactly "All I Need Is a Miracle," but has a certain appeal as it plugs along.
Roachford does offer a strong vocal on "The Best Is Yet to Come" and the piano-tinged (Luke Juby) power ballad "Save the World."
But the second half of the 12-song disc fails to really grab my ears and demand repeated listens, even though I have done just that and came away unsatisfied. Why can't Rutherford (who plays guitar/bass/etc.) and company revisit the power of songs like "Silent Running." I will admit that Let Me Fly's "The Letter" wants to take things in that direction, but while Roachford gives the song a really heft, Rutherford's arrangement seems stale, despite the rock overtures and sensibilities.
I genuinely enjoy Mike + The Mechanics, but the music is lacking in a punchy freshness that the lead-off track seemed to hint at.
Perhaps a tour in support of this album will get the band to gel further and come up with some fresh and innovative ideas if they decide to go back to the studio and really take off.
© Red Dirt Report, by Andrew W. Griffin