The album starts with a mellow rock cover of the hiphop song Ayo Technology, originally by 50 Cent. Milow completely makes it his own and it’s no wonder this was his breakthrough single. With his gentle and intimate style, Milow makes you forget what the song is actually about, and this is impressive in itself. And while he’s at it, he throws in another hit single. Follow up single, You Don’t Know has been present in the charts in The Netherlands and Belgium since whenever it came out and is not going anywhere soon. The catchy chorus and familiar and comfortable sound just lends itself perfectly to be played on all kinds of mainstream radio. It’s mellow and it’s rock & roll. It’s Milow!
The next song, One Of It is a very passionately performed power ballad. The empathy and solace in Milow’s vocals, combined with the hopeful message of the song is full of enthusiasm and just gets you involved. And the emotional Out Of My Hands is such a great song. Nicely built up and lyrically strong it voices the feeling of desperation and confusing that we can all relate to.
We then get to one of the album’s most fun songs. Canada (in which musical legend Neil Young plays a prominent role) pokes fun at becoming a superstar in no time, but also harbors the silent wish of becoming it. It’s a great balance between fun and serious and it’s catchy as hell. And this previous line pretty much sums up Milow for me.
The Ride is somewhere between a ballad and an anthem and was previously released as a radio single in Belgium. A cool, almost rootsy influence subtly underlines the song while the breathy vocals make the song more dynamic.
Milow goes back on the emotional tour with Stephanie about a girl whose life was lost. The end of a vibrant life is always a shocking and emotional thing in pop culture, but it has also proven to be a highly succesful formula (think Jeanny by Falco for example and there are countless other examples). I don’t know if Stephanie has that same potential, nor do I know if Milow intends to release this song as a single. It has a good rhythm and wouldn’t snow under, but I don’t know if it would dominate radio like You Don’t Know.
The prophetic and introspective Coming of Age is one of Milow’s finest moments on this album. The song feels like the father giving you good advice. It’s music the way only true balladeers can make it. And Milow shows that Belgium is a country that keeps producing those. The Priest is another one of those perfect songs. Milow doesn’t feel the need to fancy up his songs with all kinds of effects or samples or synths. It’s just the man with his guitar playing his heart out. This gentle, acoustic song that gets catchier by the listen give the storytelling side of this balladeer a chance to shine.
Milow then continues with the wonderful House By The Creek which tells the story of a family working through a string of traumatic experiences written from an eye-opening perspective. Milow becomes one with his songs and House By The Creek is a good example for that. I won’t blame you for shedding a tear after listening to this one. I know I have a hard time keeping it dry. And in Belgium, the next song was a successful radio single. Dreamers & Renegades has a more rock & roll feel to it. The powerful rock & roll combined with Milow’s clear vocals indeed are the right ingredients for a successful radio song. And the chorus is just plain irresistable.
We now reach an area of the album that I could’ve done without. The song are good, but because it’s stretched out over 15 songs it gets a little much of the same. Herald of the Free Enterprise, Darkness Ahead And Behind and Launching Ships all have their good points, and especially the first of the three has some things going for it, but the songs don’t have the same memorable impact that some of the previous songs did. Darkness Ahead & Behind does show the Neil Young influence and while the round and rootsy influence is pretty cool it once again doesn’t really is one of the songs that you remember after you hear the album. And while Launching Ships has the most impressive vocal harmonies of all the songs on the album (which definitely deserves a mention) it took me quite some time to appreciate this song to the fullest.
But with album closer Born In The Eighties we get to experience the true talent of this singer/songwriter. Milow outdoes himself on this excellent folk-pop ballad that has the sentiment of a Nick Drake song, the storytelling of a Neil Young song and the mark of approval of Inner Ear Media. And on top of that it’s actually doing pretty well getting stuck in my head.
While Milow probably won’t be as big as he aims for in Canada there is no doubt in my mind that this excellent musician will reach great heights all over the world. Europe’s at his feet and North America, Australia and the rest of the world is just waiting to be introduced to his music and be swept away. Just a matter of time.