Mike Dennis -‘Edge in Wordways’ (album review)

Violin ripping, Cajon thumping, sampling rapper Mike Dennis returns with his 4th full length album, Edge In Wordways and it fulfils every promise that the pre-release tasters hinted it would.

Astronaut kicks off the album and not to the rest of the album’s detriment, is an early highlight. Dennis is clearly proud of Astronaut, a song about status and self-acceptance, reminding us (as well as himself) that we shouldn’t strive to be the best at everything, but to be the best at what we excel at. Astronaut, with a chorus as catchy as the lyrics are prophetic will surely become a fixture in his live sets for years to come.

Unlikely to become an astronaut any time soon, Dennis can relax, safe in the knowledge that he has multiple skills he can rely on back here on earth. With an increased intensity from the opener, the album title track demonstrates his rapping abilities as well as his penchant for a pun and turn of phrase. Two songs in and Dennis’ diversity is obvious, with all of his abilities being employed; he’s a violinist, a rapper and everything in-between.

Elsewhere, Dennis is at his most playful on Pocket Tap, a song that bounces along almost nursery rhyme-like. It shows his innate ability to take something as seemingly banal as (to quote the first line of the song) ‘when you realise you’ve forgotten what you came out for. So turn around’, into a joyous four and a half minute pop song that will be lodged in your head for the rest of the day.

Modest and unassuming away from the limelight, Dennis is never one for reticence when it comes to his lyrics. Comfortable exhibiting himself as someone at odds with the click and collect generation we find ourselves in (whether we like it or not) you get the impression that anti-consumerism is always close to his heart, even when it isn’t necessarily the primary concept. The News is a scathing attack not just on fake news, but the negative impact that modern reporting has on a society that it influences so heavily.

Amongst the rapping and lyrical wordplay – Dennis is a genuine wordsmith – it is sometimes easy to take his classically trained violin playing for granted, but it is an often subtle, yet constant reminder as to why he is such a unique artist. And such is his uniqueness, it makes little sense to compare the work of Mike Dennis to anyone but, well, Mike Dennis. It is fair to say that with Edge in Wordways, he has conjured up his most cohesive, accessible and consequently finest album to date.

Slicker than his previous releases, yet still retaining a charming rawness that you associate with his music, the end product is the album of a man in complete control of his own art. For me, a music fan, it is exciting to see an artist continue to evolve and pursue that impossible perfection. How Dennis will interpret these songs on stage is a prospect that should enthuse any fan of live performance and I implore anyone who loves music to make the effort to go and see him on his forthcoming tour. I make this promise, you will not be disappointed!

 

Edge In Wordways is released on November 1st, you can purchase the album here as a download and choose one of two bespoke signed posters, which were designed by revered Beano illustrator Nigel Parkinson. Dennis has published the full lyric sheet, which you can read on his blog.

Mike Dennis’ Edge in Wordways tour begins on October 27th, see the poster below to find out where you can see him bring his new album and some old favourites to life in his own inimitable style.

 

Mike Dennis tour

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