Bass, Drums and Rhodes recorded by Iggy B @ Bella Union Studio
Everything else recorded by Adam Chetwood @ Chetworld
Produced by Adam Chetwood & Michael Humphrey
Mastered by Ed Woods
All songs by Michael Humphrey - MDH
For lyrics etc. visit mdhmusic.com
Thanks to all the musicians, to KiKi, and to Biggy
In memory of Nick Coyle
Review by Katie Bamber:
"If you're an inordinately talented Northern Irish singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist living in south-east London in mid-Trump, mid-Brexit, full-shitstorm 2018, what's the natural response?
To write a full-blown 15-track ode to sun-kissed Americana packed with open roads, pick-ups and prairie winds. Obviously.
Michael Humphrey's fourth album, This Time Next Year, sits on a bedrock of acoustic, bass, drums, organ and harmonies evoking 1970s Neil Young. It takes us on a road trip from the classic upbeat country rock of opener 'Favourite Place to Hide', via the beautifully uncrowded space of 'You Don't Have To' (a track that almost disintegrates halfway through—in a good way), to the frantic, high-energy pop of 'Blastoff Hill'.
There are many kinds of break-up album. This is not the kind you listen to in your bedroom while crying over Instagram photos in your pants. It's a million miles from grey skies, grey streets and naval-gazing: think whiskey-fuelled trip to Nashville during which you happen to stumble across a brilliant song craftsman from Bangor with an incredible band and bevy of backing singers in a dive bar.
Much of This Time Next Year is sung to the nameless 'you' in a relationship that's trundling slowly to its end. There's a thread of exasperation through the whole thing—an awareness of space being filled with 'too much time' that's all too easily wasted and a craving for something, anything, to break the drudgery. It's less American dream, more a romantic dream of an America that represents escape, freedom and a different life, or a life that might have been.
But behind the country rock stylings, it's Humphrey's sterling pop sensibilities that shine through. Yearning for You is a gorgeous, melodic heartbreaker that would suit a summer festival singalong as well as it would a lo-fi acoustic set. You can hear the Emmylou Harris and Ryan Adams for sure—but also Counting Crows, Tracy Chapman, Lenny Kravitz, Joni Mitchell (especially in the bell-like piano of 'No One Knows I'm Here') and early 90s acoustic rock in the vein of Blind Melon and Crash Test Dummies.
To call Humphrey a versatile musician is an understatement (this is a man who's as comfortable arranging Nine Inch Nails and a 12-minute musical medley for a cappella groups as he is giving classic opera a contemporary makeover for the Royal Opera House). His smooth, athletic vocals and the unapologetic, backing-singers-and-big-band joy of this collection of songs make them a tonic for the strained, growly, faux-soul blandness that characterises so many of the male singer-songwriters dominating the charts today.
And maybe dusty-road Americana love songs aren't such a surprising choice for a UK songwriter in 2018. Maybe an album that's part nostalgic escape fantasy, part cry of frustration, part motivational note-to-self to actually do something and make a change, is exactly what these times call for.
Regardless, This Time Next Year is crying out to be played again and again, ideally at full volume while you drive. If that drive is round the M25 in the pissing rain, all the better."