Michael Goodroe "Flesh and Blood" review

15 November 1999

Michael Goodroe Flesh and Blood (Fellini Photon Records)

Forget for a moment that the main reason Michael Goodroe has gold records on his wall and you don't is that he was in the Motels and you weren't. If you can't quite get it out of your head, then Goodroe's solo debut will likely do the trick. Never one to rest on past glory, Goodroe has put together a batch of dense, haunting numbers that are about as far from the Motels end of the spectrum as you can get.

And while Goodroe's husky, Lou Reed-ish voice has long been the focal point of his occasional stage appearances over the past few years, the emphasis on Flesh and Blood is on visionary arrangements and songs that are, well, fully fleshed out. Goodroe has never suffered from a shortage of good songs or from the desire to take what are essentially solid pop songs and attempt to make them seem holier than thou. So it's no surprise, really, that Flesh and Blood has a carefree feel to it, despite having been nearly two years in the making.

Lyrically, Goodroe doesn't tackle anything new, staying pretty well focused on the things that matter in pop music: love won and love lost and any combination thereof. But where his lyrics may not be challenging in a philosophical sense, his melodies are inventive and inspired, his arrangements lush and calculated. And although Goodroe played all of the instruments on the album and made it while hunched over a computer in his small, digital home studio, Flesh and Blood sounds absolutely epic, as if several creative forces were in collaboration, not just one guy with a lot of talent and, above all, vision.

Flesh and Blood will likely startle some longtime fans of Goodroe's solo work who are used to hearing just the man and his guitar. But the album is full of rewards. These aren't just Goodroe's songs; these, indeed, are his flesh and blood. -- Michael Henningsen