Sometime into the fourth song into Michael Gay‘s new album Make It Right, there’s a feeling and a calm that settles over you. It’s a realization that everything is going to be alright. After navigating for more than year through a global pandemic, it’s easy to forget to take a deep breath. Michael’s more stripped-down album compels you to settle down and listen. Channeling the wry, witty lyrics of John Prine with the authentic storytelling of Guy Clark, Make It Right is the perfect folk album we need right now.
The album starts off with “Enjoy The Ride” and the brilliant line, “If I had a nickel for every time I wanted more, I’d never have to earn a dime.” The song embodies themes of living in the present, accepting mistakes, and enjoying the journey. It’s a soft introduction to pedal steel and acoustic guitar foundations that Michael builds upon throughout the album. The jangle churn of “Sleep Cab” celebrates road trippin’ with a chorus that hooks you.
The title track “Make It Right” is a heartwarming song about understanding yourself and improving faults. The instrumentation around Michael’s vocals make a perfect nest to sit down in and engage. The combination of humble acceptance and sincere undertaking in growth is another theme that has sprouted in the post-pandemic world. Michael crafts this poignantly.
“These stories I keep selling, they’re just spit-shined pulp romance
You can ask my friends, they’ll all agree that I’m out of second chances”
“Two Cups of Coffee” sounds like a simple song about morning coffee, but the analogy of a couple adds in this complex story. There’s an intimacy to knowing how your partner likes their coffee. How every morning starts anew with them and how our differences can pull us apart during the days. Michael captures this longing in a really unique way with the song.
“Pour one for her, one for me
Yeah I know it’s kinda silly but all I got is memory
Always take mine black, she always liked a little cream.”
Ending the album with the piano driven “Younger Man’s Game”, Michael rounds out the album with a song talking about watching one’s friends grow up, get married and start families. Relatable to the past year where we’ve watched zoom calls and livestreams, the song resonates as we’ve witnessed lives through photos and videos. That starvation for human connection is centered in the emotional song about time.
Make It Right is an album filled with small truths and big statements. Michael Gay ties into the feelings we’ve all had in the past year, timelessly crafting a folk album that deserves a full spin. His voice is magnetic like the storytelling of James Taylor or the plaintive and personal allure of Paul Simon. Yes, this is the album that can help make everything a bit more right in 2021.
Michael Gay will be playing with The Old Country Buffet Band every first Sunday evening of the month at Palmer’s in Minneapolis. Band members include Kai Brewster on lead guitar, Taylor James Donsky on bass, Ryan Otte on drums, Haley Rydell on fiddle, and Frank Merchlewitz on keys. Tickets can be found HERE for the July 4th show at Palmer’s.