Mike Tramp – ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ (Target) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Mark Ashby   
Wednesday, 22 February 2017 04:00

Mike Tramp - Maybe TomorrowWhile his past almost inevitably will hang over him like a veritable Sword of Damocles, over the past few years Danish singer-songwriter Mike Tramp has fought to virtually re-invent himself, shaking off the shadow of his stadium-filling days as frontman with White Lion to establish himself as an artist comfortable in the shoes in which he finds himself walking more than 20 years after parting ways with the band that shot him to international stardom – and almost killed him in the process.


Over the past few years, Tramp has more or less lived the life of a wandering minstrel, touring Europe with his guitar in the back seat of his car, pulling up to tiny venues in the arse of nowhere and singing his songs and telling his stories to the most intimate of audiences in the most intimate of settings. Clubs like UR’s beloved Diamond in Ahoghill are a far cry indeed from the likes of Madison Square Garden… but the man would seem not to want to want it any other way, as he says himself:


“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 simply an extension of who I am.”


Tramp’s quest has been aided over the past half-decade or so by a trio of albums which have epitomized his journey: ‘Cobblestone Street’ saw him rediscovering his native Copenhagen, and therefore himself; ‘Museum’ saw him looking back over his shoulder to where he had come from and how his past experiences had shaped the man he is today; and ‘Nomad’ summarized where he found himself, and the comfort he felt in his place in that time.


While those three albums may be seen as something of a self-contained trilogy, ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ is arguably an extension of the Mike Tramp story that they told: an amalgamation of all the themes he explored and the experiences he retold therein, taken to the next stage in both his life and his continuing exploration of himself as an artist. This continuity of experience is reflected in the fact that ‘Maybe Tomorrow’, for the sixth successive album, once again sees Tramp collaborating with longtime friend and sidekick Søren Andersen, as well as retaining the same band – bassist Jesper Haugaard, drummer Morten Hellborn (who also worked with Andersen on the recent Electric Guitars album) and keyboard player Morten Buchholz – who played on the trilogy-closing ‘Nomad’ opus.



Kicking off with the single ‘Coming Home’, which opens with an almost REM-ish vibe, especially on Andersen’s Pete Buck style guitar twang and Tramp’s drawl surprisingly recalling Stripe at his impish best, the connection with the preceding albums, and especially the title track of ‘Cobblestone Street’ is immediately obvious, as the singer explores similar themes of reminiscence and expectation, as he asks “Can you hear the calling/From the streets where you were born?”


‘It’s Not How We Do It’ kicks in with a powerchord that immediately recalls that which opens Free’s ‘Alright Now’, but the song quickly evolves into the trademark countrified sound which Tramp has adopted in his recent musical history. The lyrics are incisive and accurate in their conveyance of advice to someone trying to rebel against the norm, but also in their evocation of the hypocrisy and contradiction of modern society – and the transience of so called “fans” in this age of social media which can see people built up and then brought crashing back down at the stroke of a keyboard slash. By contrast, however, ‘Spring’ is an ebullient challenge to get out there and do it, and a paean to the fact that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how long the “shadow upon your face”; it’s just a pity that the musical treatment itself is rather mundane and doesn’t really grip.


‘Would I Lie To You’ is another song with unfulfilled potential: it starts with a nice bluesy twang to it, but the lyrics are somewhat of a pastiche and it sorts drifts past on the passing tide. ‘Rust And Dust’, on the other hand, is a good mid-pacer, driven by a solid rhythm and series of suitably guitar stabs from Andersen, with a catchy hook and chorus which would make it a good choice for the next single. ‘Leaving One Day’ keeps up the rocky vibe, kicking in with a Thunder-esque shred before easing back into one of Tramp’s characteristic combinations of introspection and optimism: musically, the song does dissipate somewhat in the verses, but Tramp’s voice is enough to carry the tune into its reflectively bluesy interlude.


‘Time And Place’ is beautiful in its simplicity of both delivery – just Tramp over Morten Buchholz’s basic piano mien (with just a touch of sampled strings) – and theme: at the same time, the message in the song is complicated – just who is doing the walking away, and from what? It’s an oft recurred theme of falling out of love, but one which still wrenches with its earnest honesty. ‘What More Can I Say’ could be seen as a sequel: an upbeat mission statement about taking that which doesn’t break you making you stronger and driving forward to meet the next challenge life throws in your path. “But when you come from the streets/Then the streets is where you belong”. We’ve all been there, picked ourselves up and got on with it, haven’t we brothers and sisters?


‘Why Even Worry At All’ is typical Tramp in its theme: why the fuck not, let’s see where life takes us? It’s a journey, both personally and musical, which he has spent his whole life undertaking, now to find himself comfortable just going with the flow and doing what he does: “Only time will tell you/But it’s really up to you/Make your own decisions/And you’ll always see it through”. The man’s endemic optimism is infectious. The title track closes the album off in beautiful style. Clocking it at just over six minutes, it starts with another sweetly struck piano motif, which continues throughout the song, which in turns moves from a tone of regret to one of hope as the author pleads for forgiveness knowing that it ultimately will come his way.


‘Maybe Tomorrow’ is another album by an artist comfortable in who he is at this moment in time. An artist not afraid to look over his shoulder at the mistakes he had made and own up to them, but equally at how the experiences which have brought him to where he is today have shaped him into the person able and confident to write and release yet another deeply personal set of songs and have them taken at face value.


I’ll leave the last word on the album to Tramp himself: “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 moved away from the past, but I have grown and I have made my stand. When I listen to ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ I don’t just see myself. I now also see my faithful audience that have grown with me, and that is the best feeling of all.”


‘Maybe Tomorrow’ is released this Friday (24 February).


Mike Tramp’s latest tour kicks off in Roskilde tomorrow (Thursday 23 February) and hits the UK next month:


Mike Tramp tour header




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