Review: Mike Tolle, Acoustic Folk Blues

By Jasco
The Recordium studio

Acoustic Folk Blues is an apt title for Mike Tolle’s album. It’s a collection of thirteen blues songs in a vocal with acoustic guitar format. It has the vibe of an old-school blues performance captured with modern fidelity.

Mike recorded and mixed the record himself. Unlike many home recordists who use their DAW (digital audio workstation) to sample, edit, auto-tune, and quantize their way to a ‘perfect’ sounding recording, Mike used his DAW like a digital tape deck to record an honest ‘live-in-the-studio’ recording of himself.

It takes a lot of confidence to record this way, as there is nothing to hide behind. You can either play it or you can’t. The old delta-blues singer/guitarists didn’t need modern studio tricks to make soulful music and neither does Mike Tolle. Mike does a great job on his drop-thumb picking style, holding a solid groove while giving the illusion of more than one guitar being played.

I enjoyed the song selections – a mix of popular blues tunes such as Walkin’ Blues and Key to the Highway, offset by more esoteric titles like Candyman and Oh Babe It Ain’t No Lie.

It was also cool to hear Mike’s solo acoustic arrangements of blues tunes I normally hear as full band recordings such as She Caught the Katy and Rock Me Baby. It’s as if Robert Johnson and Son House were playing Taj Mahal and BB King.

I hope this record gets Mike Tolle some recognition with regional blues fans. His brand of vintage blues should really resonate with a lot of blues enthusiasts. Check out more at

Jasco is the guitarist for The Symbols and Stompit, and co-owner of The Recordium studio.

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