Spin a disc, take a risk: on a personal venture outside THE TREAT, British master of reason and rhyme reaches for catharsis to find peace of mind.
Duality has always been part of Mike Hyder’s method, yet if "Lepers & Deities" from his band didn’t go for contradiction, this long-gestating folllow-up to 2015’s solo effort "Craftsman" does just that… Well, not just that. In the four years since its release, the artist’s life revolved around occasional success and lingering losses which left a lot of scars and a trail of songs – chained now into an album, “Wood & Steel” reflecting his resilience and resistance, but most of all his search for sence.
There’s anxiety oozing out of these numbers, from the nervous chords of “Don’t Look Behind You” onward, where a countrified interplay between guitar and piano creates urgency as dynamic splashes propel the flow to riff-laden paranoia – in the vein of “Oh Well” – only to resolve the dread with an acoustic strum of “Looking Forward”: a wonderful way to turn the duality on its head and soldier on. This is why, while the delicately textured “In My Dreams” can’t hide Hyder’s pain, the cut’s folksy tone and drone offsetting his sweet vocals, “Blue Diamond” marries Mike sarcasm to romanticism, both lyrically and musically, and lets the sunshine into his inner gloom. Similarly, though the handclaps which spice up “Continental Woman” fail to bring a smile to the listener’s face, despite the piece’s brass and wah-wah-whammied sway, a blinding electric swirl of “On The Buses” would lead to spiritual cleansing.
Stripped of superficial rocking in favor of rustic austerity, “A Song For You” may seem to default to a flute-led prog template, but Mike’s well-orchestrated drama is disturbing on its own terms, building tension for the – again – anguished, albeit solemn, “(God Knows) I’m Missing You” whose chamber grandeur doesn’t fail to mesmerize with every new spin. Still, the perky “Premonition” wraps regret in twang to chase it away and prepare “Jack The Lad” for the Gallic-styled guilt trip in reverse: as a result, this alarming album turns into triumph – tragically so. It’s easy to relate to this record’s emotional load yet it’s difficult not to love its weight.