Mike Elrington is a gifted and powerful singer songwriter with incredible guitar skills. Standing at almost two metres tall, delivering his signature, gut-wrenching vocals like an instrument all on its own, very few people forget a performance from this man. The commitment to his live shows and the well-earned reputation for leaving nothing behind but sweat has seen him invited to perform at some of Australia’s finest festivals, including the iconic Byron Bay BluesFest, Bendigo, Sydney Blues and Roots Festivals & Blues on Broadbeach, and the Melbourne Guitar Show to name a few.
In 2020, amid the chaos of the pandemic, Mike Elrington has delivered his finest work to date, his brand new epic album Aftershock. Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips caught up with Mike and his producer Sean O’Sullivan (Highway 9 Productions) to talk about the journey of creating the new recording.
Our Aftershock afterthoughts:
With Everything to Everyone, the one minute, twenty one second opening track to his fabulous new album Aftershock, Mike Elrington signals that something significant is about to occur. Like a gathering storm, the middle-eastern flavoured track sets the scene for Mike’s career-defining epic new recording. It Still Burns then takes us back to the passionate, blues rock based vocal that Mike is known for but with an added dimension. There’s some kind of powerful voodoo goin’ on here, an elevated spirit which has been building over Elrington’s long, distinguished career and finally gets to reveal its true self in spades.
In the creation of this album, Mike has had to dig deep within himself, dealing with the consequences of some heavy personal matters. However, rather than be defeated, Mike has chosen defiance and as he sings on the commanding track Broken, “Aint gonna be broken no more, pick up my heart off the floor”.
As much as Elrington emerges as an artist to be reckoned with, so too does producer Sean O’Sullivan make an equally potent statement, as evident on Broken and so many other tracks, Sean displays a full repertoire of production skills. There is A Light is a beautiful song, penned and performed gracefully by Mike but again, taken to another level by the superb treatment of the orchestral backing by Sean.
The freewheelin’ She Don’t Want Nobody to Love featuring the vocals of June Harrison motors along with attitude and will make you want to stomp or at least move energetically in some way rather than merely dance. She’s On My Mind Again, released as a single earlier, is propelled along by an infectious guitar riff and benefits from another huge production effort by O’Sullivan. Don’t Give Me A Dime, another previously released single shows Elrington’s passion for musical exploration, bringing in Where Is Leroy and Maelstrom to add their rapping prowess to the mix with great results.
Only In Your Eyes is a real collaboration between producer and artist, a gorgeous ballad, nourished by a superb orchestral arrangement. Dirty Death not only highlights a massive vocal performance by Mike but also showcases his guitar dexterity. Fly Away was clearly the only choice as an album closer. After experiencing such an ambitious, epic journey, we’re left with just Mike, a fingerpicking guitar and his voice. It’s Elrington taking a bow and singing, “Well here I am again, on a road that knows no end, looking for a friend. And if I find a home, I will never know, cos there’s always somewhere else to go. I’m going to Fly Away”
Aftershock is a significant milestone in the career of Mike Elrington, the culmination of many years of blood, sweat and tears and the triumphant beginning of a brand new chapter of his story.