Mike Trask and the Precious Memories – One Big Happy Family

Mike Trask - One Big Happy Family

Band: Mike Trask and the Precious Memories
Album: One Big Happy Family

Written by: Chiara DiAngelo

East Coast singer-songwriter and blues rocker Mike Trask’s latest release One Big Happy Family is the culmination of a collaborative effort with local artist Benjamin Allain. The tracks are based on a collection of artwork by Allain inspired by a photo album the two picked up at a junk shop, which follows a woman through her adult years. Without the corresponding art pieces as visuals to guide me or influence my interpretation, I was left to close my eyes and let my ears be overtaken by the music and lyrics, coming to my own imagined storyline for the muse.

The collective spirit of the concept album runs like a down and dirty family jug band jam session – you can easily picture a group of friends improvising on DIY instruments in a garage, a dingy bar, or even way down in the bayou. The tracks are varied, each unique in its own sound but there is something about the overall energy captured that instantly grabs you. Instruments aside, one of the album’s strongest features is easily the male-female back and forth conversational vocals that are its heart and soul. The dynamic is not unlike a bluesier Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, with Becky Siamon’s throaty voice often deservedly taking centre stage, as it does on album opener “Those Eyes” and “Home For My Love.”

Some of my favourite songs and albums conjure images in my head, but this one directs entire movies. The staticky spoken word vocals of “Stuck in Stockholm” set the scene for a black-and-white Western-inspired cop drama, whereas Trask’s warbling on the classically romantic “Judy Moon” is reminiscent in sound to Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World” and brings to life a film noir serenade in the soft moonlight. Title track “One Big Happy Family” brings in some gritty electric guitar riffs; I’m still not sure whether the lyrics depicting a dysfunctional family – “they don’t get along but they’re going strong” – are meant in a tongue and cheek manner but cheerful “We Are Family” this song is not. It makes me fear for the fate of the heroine of the album. How quickly things have changed since the sweetly sentimental 50’s feeling ballad “He’ll Take Her Dancing.” Romance gone, we are left to ponder the stark and bitter reality.

What began as an EP (released April 2013), the album then grew into the 10-track full-length. The original five songs are distinctly the most romantic-sounding whereas the added tracks are darker, more experimentally out there. The sometimes chillingly abrupt transition in tone of the old versus new tracks was slightly alarming upon first listen but grows on you with each continued repeat visit. Released in September 2013, One Big Happy Family may be an album you missed and is well worth backtracking into last year for. It’s this sort of creativity that leaves you with a sense of wonder and encourages you to look at the world around you in a different way, because truly anything can be an inspiration for a work of art. As Trask expresses, “I can’t tell you about the rhythm and the beat – you gotta feel it.” Trask and the Precious Memories truly feel it!


Categories: Recorded


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