“American Travels” is the initial track on Heading West, and it provides listeners with an insight into the new direction taken by Mike Howe. Howe establishes a very specific atmosphere for Heading West that is bolstered by “Old Wooden House.” There is a pristine and untouched feel to the compositions on this CD that will stick with listeners long after the title closes up. “Hope” is a very deliberate and alluring styling that weaves together small-time coffee house and full-on operatic rock. What results is something refreshing and utterly unique that makes this disc into one of the best we’ve reviewed in the last 12 months.
“The Last Buffalo” is placed smartly in the middle of Heading West; the arrangement is precisely what listeners need to keep interested in the second side of this title. I feel that the combination of aboriginal and classical elements spice things up considerably, allowing Howe to expand his palette considerably.
“Moon Over Saratoga” and “San Francisco” are two late-disc tracks that destroy the conception of musicians placing their lesser efforts later. “San Francisco” is one of our favorite tracks on Heading West as Howe establishes a compelling interplay between the instrumentation and the blank space in which it exists. Purchase Heading West at any well-stocked independent music retailer, online store, or from the Real Music collection. Bookmark Real Music’s website for more information about their 2013 slate. Despite growing up and living an ocean away, there is no denying that Howe is able to faithfully recreate the spirit and the soul of the American West. Top Tracks: “American Travels,” “I Can See For Miles,” “Prairie Dreams”. Rating: 9.0 out of 10.