August Moonshine

August Moonshine

August Moonshine Recordings, 2009

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


August Moonshine is the debut album from the wonderfully talented Californian-based musician Rich Mikolitch.  The singer-songwriter recorded it at his home and played all the instruments (except some harmonica) and wrote almost the entire thing himself. 

For me, it was instantly accessible musically, falling somewhere ebetween Emmylou Harris and Russell Morris – not bad company at all.  Mikolitch has blended acoustic arrangements punctuated with electric expressions of raw emotion into an enchanting bevy of songs that will seep into your subconscious with ease.

Opener “Angels In May” beautifully sets the tone for what is to come.  It already has become a favorite of mine, no doubt due to its easy groove and introspective lyrics.  Mikolitch’s voice is not that of a natural singer’s, but he uses it in a unique and endearing way.  At times he sounds angst-ridden and other times sweetly romantic, but he delivers every note with soul, which was what drew me in instantly.

“I Don’t Know What It’s Like” follows next, and while lyrically its intentions may not be clear, musically it’s a definite high point thanks to some awesome bluesy harmonica by Brandon Farr and sweet harmonies by Rich and his wife Jessica.  “Scared Of The Dark” is possibly the most “radio-friendly” song here.  It was during my first listen with this track washing over me at 3 a.m. that I realized there was something special about what I was hearing.  It’s wholly original and yet instantly recognizable, heartbreaking and defiant at the same time.  A true gem.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Full Of Grace” is right up my alley; an up-tempo acoustic arrangement augmented by a slow-burning electric guitar and Mikolitch’s torched vocal delivery makes for musical heaven.  His ability to evoke varying emotions with his voice is most prevalent here.  Lyrically, it’s one of the album’s most prolific statements: “And when the stars start to cave in / When I start to see the Devil’s grin / When I search my soul where within / Can you help me to see again?”

“Just For Now” and “Sunrise And Sunset” are next and sit very comfortably together.  Their lyrical introspection is countered by some brilliant musicianship steeped firmly in the roots genre while at times flirting with country (not a bad thing); together they compliment the album very well.

“When I Wake Up” is another highlight and is a fine example of how quite often less is more.  There are no drums here (as with the rest of the album), just bass and acoustic guitars driving the rhythm accented by a little percussion here and there.  The album closes with the downtrodden man’s lament “Running Away” and leaves things on a rather somber note.  Vocally, this is Rich’s most soulful performance as he once again delivers goods amidst a swell of raw emotion.

Overall, August Moonshine is a passionate expression of love and loss, all the while being a musical treasure trove of one man’s talents and the first of hopefully many more releases to come.  Although there is a deep sense of soul searching going on, it thankfully doesn’t leave the listener as emotionally exhausted as some music can – you know, the type where the artist dumps all their shit on you so they can be rid of it themselves?  Well, that’s not the case here, probably due to it being a rather short affair, clocking in at a tad over 30 minutes.  This is great for those late nights that never seem to pass, but I don’t know if I’d play it on a brilliant sunny day when spirits are high – it could take you to a place you’d rather not be.

Rating: B+

User Rating: A



© 2009 Mark Millan and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of August Moonshine Recordings, and is used for informational purposes only.