by Dan Peacock
New Scene magazine
Michael Kirkpatrick strikes down convention in the many genre he touches. He can bounce a bluegrass acoustic duet with Pete Kartsounes in their band The Good Time Travelers, or hypnotize the mind with a mandolin in the psychedelic world-folk duo Blue Canyon Ritual. That’s naming only two of the five bands that undoubtedly keep Kirkpatrick growing in a truly genre-inclusive direction. He tends to break two hundred and fifty shows a year as he takes his unique sound nationwide.
This year Mr. Kirkpatrick released a solo EP titled Little Muse. He describes the album as taking a more ‘serious’ view of what makes him fall in love – whether it be with a woman, the summoning peak of a mountain, or the crowd itself. This extensive variation of soulful love can be heard within each track, with songs honoring the loneliness of winter and the golden warmth of a summer bluegrass festival.
Michael has lived and crafted music in Northern Colorado for eighteen years as he grew his career out of Greely and Fort Collins. The inspiration he felt from the state is evident throughout Little Muse. One of the five featured tracks, Little Honey, was the first song Kirkpatrick wrote on the Michael Hornick – crafted troubadour guitar he received after winning the 2014 Telluride Troubadour award. The song was meant to express the elaborate ‘love affair’ he felt for the audience.
“High in the mountains of Telluride/ Hungry hearts at the end of the road/ The aspen
quake when you walk by/ Del’s voice echoes down below.”
Back to the Rain was influenced by the pain Michael felt while watching coverage of the heavy Colorado floods of 2013 – especially via the images of The Wildflower Pavilion at Planet Bluegrass of Lyons, Colorado being overrun by the swelling water.
“On the eighth morning waking up with rain, I swore to myself I wouldn’t see you again… It’s got endless skies and peaks so high you could climb your way out of time.”
Michael has a massively sonorous baritone, which he throws around in this EP in a soulful rock style with unsurprisingly operatic reverberation. Mr. Kirkpatrick and his voice were professionally tuned while studying opera at Washington State University, UNC Greely, and The Santa Fe Opera. He made the shift towards pop/rock/bluegrass life when audience members articulated how enjoyable it was to hear him get low with his cords, and up close and personal with the microphone. Consequently, this highly modern rock album is full of dynamic twists and turns of emotionally racketed riffs rarely found in the genera.
Mr. Kirkpatrick is master of the crescendo, taking a song from deep and dolce strumming to explosive acoustic belting. Songs Strange Desire, Winter’s End, and Alone Again make special use of this range of intonation, with spine-chilling wails that fit the cold or isolate lyrical setting of each song. Imagine opera singer Dmitri Hvorostovsky covering the cries of Led Zeppelin’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.”
Little Muse was recorded by Darren Radach (who also provided the drums for the EP) at Stout Studio and by Michael at his Green Man Sound Lab. Little Muse is supported by some of Fort Collins’ best: Justin Roth on Bass Guitar, Ansel Foxley on Electric Dobro and Amanda Hofer on supporting vocals: The Honey Rider Band. The album is available for purchase on CD Baby’s website, and via streaming through your favorite streaming services. If you enjoy the unique and local vibes as I did, make sure to check out Michael’s band The Littlest Birds (led by
Laramie Claw-hammer Banjo player Sharon Martinson) in their new LP Phoenix Rising releasing this April, along with The Good Time Traveler’s new album Mountain Song to release in March. For more info on Michael Kirkpatrick’s history, tour dates, and upcoming releases, you can visit his website right here. To get the full experience, make sure to catch Michael Kirkpatrick and The Honey Rider Band perform at the newly renovated Washington’s on March 8th.
For more information – http://www.michaelkirkpatrickmusic.com/
Feature photo from Instagram