Later Than Never is the debut by the Mikerotones, an EP-length project built around the talents of Michael Hoisington. He is a singer-songwriter-guitarist who put the group together in 2017, and the other members of the trio are bassist Josquin Des Pres and drummer Danny Barragan. The seven tracks were recorded at Track Star Studios with Des Pres and Hoisington producing.
The Mikerotones’ sound is well-executed acoustic blues-rock, with an infusion of jazz and even R&B elements. Hoisington double-tracked the vocals, often with tight harmonies in the process, and his voice is strong and confident in the pocket of these seven originals; the songs are for the most part first person expressions of love and commitment. A few clicks on the web reveals Hoisington to have a day job as a professional, but he has clearly also spent some time learning his way around the six string—his considerable guitar skills combine with variations of tempo and style among the songs to keep the program interesting.
“Black and Blue” opens, a superb cut that puts all of the group’s strengths forward at the outset. To a forceful and enchanting guitar strum pattern, Hoisington’s harmonized vocal slices powerfully, with lyrics about how he will be the constant in his lover’s life “until we’re both black and blue.” It wraps with some tasty, if brief guitar soloing that serves early notice of his six-string savvy. Dobro accents add texture to “Lonely Day,” which again features wall to wall harmonies on lead vocal, this time over finger picked figures. Hoisington sings of missing a lover after a breakup in a tune with an alt-country feel.
The trio packs a full throttled arrangement into “Breakdown,” with churning guitar work from Hoisington following Des Pres’ bassline, pushing an urgent and propulsive beat as he sings about the struggles of day to day life—with nice soloing interludes. Easing up on the throttle a bit, but with a similar feel, “Another Frame” laments the hassles of today’s rat-race existence, “One step in front of another/ Try to stay under cover/ Too much don’t want to bother/ Almost under water/ Everything is pretty much the same.” z
The final two tracks are longer and mellower than others in the set. Hoisington launches “Save a Soul” with some flying blues guitar arpeggios, before settling into a story about a characters in another place and time who made a critical decision with life changing results, as his lyrics branch out of the box more than other tracks. Similarly, “Brother” is a mid-tempo song with a folk vibe and a straightforward message about kinship, ‘Your memory means everything to me,” as he recalls experiences of a lifetime looking back on the passing of a sibling. It is a nicely executed, heartfelt and touching memoir.
Later Than Never is an ear-catching collection of new, different roots music from the Mikerotones, a great listen.