Mike Campese Music 2023


American multi-instrumentalist attempts to launch a fresh chapter of his career – with moderate success.

Maybe bringing on a new album as a result of lockdown-related stir-craziness and seeing it as a new start is not the best motive for an artist bursting with ideas, but this Albany-based musician’s impetus is not difficult to understand. Far removed from the often quiet reflection of "Chapters" that married finesse to fun, “Reset” tends to be too bombastic – high on grandiose moves which could suit the guitar-slinger’s former outfit TSO yet don’t form an arresting array of solo performances. Still, alluring moments are plenty here.

There are actual songs this time, though, flowing in after the opening salvo of a few wordless pieces, including the almost-symphonic “Fire” where Campese instruments – his fingers deliver everything on the record, apart from drums – impressively pour neoclassical lava into a simmering cauldron of sounds. However, from “Bee Eater” onwards, riffs and licks stumble over stampeding grooves for overplaying to reign supreme, and even the acoustic vibe of “Tension In Motion” can’t resolve it all. Mike’s understated voice on the likes of “Waisted Time” will fail to redress the balance between vocal lines and shredding – except, perhaps, on the bluesy ballad that is the title track as “Reset” feels well-paced, if not exactly sparse, and on “Dance” that’s struggling to simultaneously span a disco and metal scope. So while the same Vivaldi-on-steroid approach should work on “Space Dragon” whose harmonics are quite elegant, “The Silent Weapon” comes across as rather histrionic.

Thankfully, “Let It Ride” has some rock ‘n’ roll dynamics in it to try and sway the cynics, and the finale “Elephants In The Backyard” adds a slider to the palette to propel the platter to a close in a somewhat jubilant, albeit non-unhurried, fashion. Whether this album and fresh start are on the same page is a moot point, but as an attempt to seize the moment, “Reset” is a nice notch in Mike Campese’s discography.


February 25, 2023

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