In the fall of 2013, several years had passed since Mike Dunn released an album with his band Mike Dunn & the Kings of New England. He had taken time off from music and touring to “grow up.” You know, get a job and get married. And though he never stopped writing songs, nothing felt worth its weight in vinyl. With a dark cloud of self-doubt looming like an afternoon storm in summer, Dunn knew it was time for a new chapter. So he picked himself up by his bootstraps, rented a cabin in the woods and set out to write a record.
He rigged up a little studio in the two-bedroom shack on a lake. He read Flannery O'Connor, ate rare steak, drank good whiskey, took naps and, lo and behold, wrote a song. When the week was up, so was his song count; he left with five songs and the roots of what would become the sprawling Hard Luck Soft Rock. The ten song album shows Dunn as a veteran of the music scene, a songwriter enjoying his art without worrying about success. Instead of chasing an ever-moving finish line, his heartfelt lyrics and rock melodies prove he is finally enjoying the run.
In describing the album, it’s best to lean on one of Dunn’s favorite quotes from Paul Westerberg: “We weren’t invited to the party, so we threw our own.” Reuniting with producer Louis DeFabrizio (Gasoline Heart), who produced Dunn’s first record in 2007, made it easy to pave this new musical path. And fortunately for the rest of us, this is a rock ’n roll party with Americana grit and power pop hooks we’re all welcome to attend.
By Bree Adamson
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