Mike Kershaw: What Lies Beneath album review

Delightfully stripped-back album from a perennial underdog Mike Kershaw.

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He’s several albums into his career – recorded under his own name and as Relocate To Heathrow – but Mike Kershaw remains a relatively unknown proposition to all but the most studious of prog listeners. But obscurity doesn’t equal mediocrity, and the timeless songcraft he frequently demonstrates here proves that point. At the core of his appeal is a knack for mixing a 70s influence with more contemporary elements, something that many artists struggle to achieve.

And yet there’s a noticeable and frustrating uncertainty about his vocals, which are frequently frail, as if through an apparent lack of belief in his own ability. Yet such hesitancy is unfounded. There are moments when he sounds like an unlikely mix of Peter Hammill and Richard Butler (Psychedelic Furs), especially on the opener Gunning For The Gods and The City Of My Dreams. The album occasionally has the aura of a polished demo, and while that may appear overly critical given the understandable budgetary restraints imposed on smaller artists, there’s an honesty about the likes of Dice and Wounds that’s often lost with a big budget production. Kershaw patently has much more to offer.