Opening with the baritone spoken ‘The Officer’s Mess’ a track full of plangent acoustic guitar and melancholy piano lines, Plater lays his cards on the table early on. This is is a dark brew of folk allusion and portent squeezed through a Cave / Willard Grant filter. ‘Pretty Maids’ lifts the pace with a glorious poppy organ and sprightly guitar figure but is still rooted by the half spoken-sung vocal. As the album progresses it’s clear that a night at Michael’s is not going to be a flippant or giddy affair, the sheer weight of his vocal delivery sometimes undermining the really quite arresting production work and instrumentation. ‘We Lit the Lamps’ is a case in point. A stately hymnal which borrows from the Floyd has much to admire about it, particularly the surging organ and piano / steel guitar break – simple yet very effective – but the vocals although energised, are enervating by six tracks in and need more colour to soften their overall impact. Similarly, the fuzzed guitar on ‘Reflections of a Dream,’ are beautiful and cracked.
There is much to like here, and if sonorous vocals are your bag then this album is full of delights, but for this reviewer there needs to be more variety.