Whether he’s making music with Heartwood or as a solo artist, Michael Armstrong is a songwriter with a soft heart and a positive soul. His music is engaging, whether he’s playing ’70s and ’80s-style folk-rock or the mellow indie-rock of the ’90s. On his debut solo project, I Hope I’m Hearing Right, Armstrong turns back the clock to find inspiration, and the result is a spiraling yet intimate record. The strengths of the album are the harrowing indie-rock songs, which force Armstrong to restrain his falsetto and allow his guitar and the other instruments to shine through. “Golden Cup”, “It Won’t Be Long”, and “Don’t Fade On Me” echo of the mid-fi brilliance of Elliot Smith. The stunning “Colors”, which was included on the February 27th Weekend Showcase, is a Sufjan Stevens-style track.

For a songwriter so young, Armstrong writes powerful ballads, like the ’80s-esque “Silver Sanction”. “You Don’t Even Know It” is a piano-centred rock tune, again emanating with the sound of the 80s. There are a couple of small missteps, which Armstrong admits, but overall I Hope I’m Hearing Right is an impressive debut, especially considering Armstrong is only 20-years old. Many people his age likely wouldn’t be channeling the likes of Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, or Elliott Smith let alone know their names. In addition, they likely wouldn’t be a gifted multi-instrumentalist who plays the guitar, piano, trombone, saxophone, and harmonica, often recording these elements and seemlessly integrating them in to the songs, making it sound like the songs were recorded with a full band. Add another skill to Armstrong’s resume – that of a producer.

The future is enormous for the multi-talented Los Angeles native. As his songwriting further develops and he refines his sound and direction, we’ll probably be hearing his name in the same breath as Cat Stevens, Michael Bublé, or even Neil Young. With his talents, Armstrong could go in any number of directions and succeed.

I Hope I’m Hearing Right is available at Michael’s online store, iTunes, Amazon, and eMusic. You can hear the entire album on SoundCloud and all eight tracks below.

Website – www.michaelarmstrongofficial.com
Facebook – Michael Armstrong
Twitter – @mstrongofficial

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