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The Superbly Compelling Pop Music of Mike Schmid

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Mike Schmid's music has been featured in several films and television programs. He has contributed to albums by the Corrs and Van Hunt, and has supported Chantal Kreviazuk during the latter's appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno", but Schmid's true genius shines with remarkable caliber in his solo work.

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MIKE SCHMID: The High Cost of Living (CD on Plastic Chair Music)

This CD from 2006 features 60 minutes of outstanding pop music.

Keyboardist Mike Schmid is joined by Rich Jacques and Greg Sarfaty on guitars, Bill Lefler on drums, Michelina Wright on violin, and Jessica Catron on cello.

While the music is clearly ruled by Schmid's charismatic keyboards, this domination is structured to flourish in conjunction with the other instruments. Intricacy is advantageous here as everything meshes with eminently gregarious cohesion.

Whether playing traditional piano or adventurous synthesizers, Schmid's performance is thick with passion and glistening with succulent honey.

The glistening lilt of guitars is intense and attractive, mixing electric and acoustic strings with fascinating skill. There are teeth-grinding moments as well as romantic passages of endearing charm.

Never overwhelming the scrupulously crafted melodies, vigorous drums provide excellent propulsion for this music.

Surprisingly, the majority of these songs possess no bass presence, although that deficiency is hardly noticeable with the precipitous density achieved by the rest of the instruments.

Schmid's vocals are crisp and alluring, exactingly accessible to all walks of life. The lyrics describe how each day can be a struggle, a sentiment that certainly everyone can understand. Here, though, the high cost of living concerns more than just battling waning finances. The central theme involves the rewarding and debilitating effects of living with love.

The music exudes a powerful compositional quality that reaches low and high as it grips the attention. Memorable tunes abound, leaving their melodies deeply imprinted on the mind long after the album is finished. A vibrant sense of originality prevails too, marking the composer as someone worthy of the risks taken to achieve his goals.

Even when the music takes a dark turn, optimism remains thoroughly undaunted. The songs may not cure despondency, but they certainly undermine the resilient grip of despair.

Mixing the verve of Ben Folds with the passion of Billy Joel and tossing in a dash of the intelligence of Aimee Mann, this album is a rewarding and satisfying gem that outshines the majority of music dominating today's homogenous radio airplay.

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