Mike Blakely: Homemade Serenade

Texas Author/Singer/Songwriter Mike Blakely has led an interesting career built on storytelling. Whether on paper or in song, he uses his gift to create and captivate his audience with stories of the western way of life.  Blakely has over 17 books to his credit, his most recent release was co-written with Country Music Icon Willie Nelson, a western novel entitled A Tale Out of Luck. A new book, What Are The Chances, is due out later this year and was co-written by Blakely and country singer Kenny Rogers. It will be his first non-western, and is a music business story set in 1975.

His 11th studio album, Homemade Serenade, was released last year and is his best album to date. Recorded out in the Texas Hill Country in a studio outside of Fredericksburg, Homemade Serenade is a sparse, acoustic based album that moves from track to track beautifully. The laid back arrangements (with a very light Tejano vibe) complement Blakely’s intimate delivery, and the listener is drawn in by the depth of the lyrics and the warmth of his voice. The title track really embodies the concept of the entire album, talking about the power of music made with love and a “handmade guitar.”

In the beautifully sad “In a Drought Crack,” Blakely captivates with only his voice and guitar. The Bluegrass tune “Chuck Will’s Widow” (a nightbird similar to a Whip-poor-will), is a creative murder tale that shows Blakely can deliver even the darkest of stories in a light hearted way.  He mixes humor and philosophy, weaving them together brilliantly. Songs  like “Walmart Tequilla,” and “St. Peter’s Day Off” are great examples of this, as well as the wonderful tale of “Jesus and Juan” that was inspired by paintings of a young Jesus and John the Baptist.  Mix in a time machine and Leonardo da Vinci and you have the magic that makes for fantastic storytelling.

Blakely even includes a song about the legendary Luckenbach Texas, where he performs regularly. “Luckenbach Blue Moon New Year’s Eve” captures the soul of what makes Luckenbach such a special place. “If Love Was A Pawn Shop” is just a great straight up love song with delightful mandolin accompaniment.   I’d have to say my favorite track is “That’s The Way I Feel (Comin’ Home To You).” There is such a pure and sweet soulfulness in his voice that truly connects.

All in all, this entire CD is beautifully delivered with great heart and great storytelling. Texas music at its best.

For more information on Mike Blakely’s music and books, visit his web site.

~Wade Phillips

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