The fourth album by the multi-national project Mighty Oaks on 7th May 2021: boosted by lead singer Ian Hopper in the German TV show Sing meinen Song, the folk trio is releasing Mexico just the week before their songs are featured in TV. A good opportunity to have a listen to their tunes. Here is my review.
Mighty Oaks – About The Artists
The Mighty Oaks are a folk trio from Berlin. Ian Hopper, Claudio Donzelli and Craig Saunders founded the band in 2010. Hopper is a Washington State native, who later studied in Portland, Oregon, before moving to Germany in 2008. In Hamburg he met Donzelli, who is an Italian citizen and Englishman Saunders. After two EPs (Mighty Oaks, 2011, and Just One Day, 2013), the single Brother finally brought the band in focus of the German music scene. Despite the song has a peak position of 66 in the German singles charts, it made a golden record in 2014. The corresponding album Howl was Top 10 in Germany and Switzerland. Even though this was the best chart placement by the trio so far, the following albums Dreamers (2017) and All Things Go (2020) did well in sales.
Mighty Oaks – Mexico – Track by Track
The twelve track album lasts 40 minutes.
1. Land Of Broken Dreams
Go ahead and cry What makes you bitter makes you wise And I’ll hope you’ll try To see on past the darkest times ‘Cause life, it can seem Like a land of broken dreams But now those dreams are all you got Beneath your feet
The album start with the rather slow Land of Broken Dreams. A song, which I really enjoy to listen to. Somehow uplifting, spreading a good mood. The polyphonic vocal performance is leading to a nice sound, the song has a bit of an old-fashioned style, but still feels not outdated.
Mexico comes with a very different song and style. The harmonica and the guitar chords even turn the title track into a candidate for my Country Music Playlist. Really nice listen, a song with a touch of irony about emigrating to the country.
3. Devil And The Deep Blue Sea
The album starts with three very different songs. Devil And The Deep Blue Sea is another rather slow song. I prefer the first two songs more, but the track indeed is a nice alternative folk track.
The road to ruin’s long I travel it on my own And all along the way People stop me to say “Man, you’re looking lost Why don’t you take a break?”
4. My Demons
The fourth track comes with a very nice groove and is gaining more and more power over its 3:26 minutes. There are finally even some string elements in it. The monotonous work on the keyboard just gives a marching and swaying touch to the music. Really like it!
Apart from My Demons, all first five songs have been released before the the album. Again, the Mighty Oaks might not deliver a complex lyrics plot (if you remove the most frequent line, Until you are a ghost to me, the song consists of 18 different text lines), but they give a nice, precise story and nicely put the message of the song into a fitting melody. Ghost is one of the best songs in that regards.
6. What You Fighting For
With 2:28 minutes, What You Fighting For is the shortest track of the album. A bit of a shame, as it comes with nice rhythmic work on the drums and the acoustic guitar as well as catching melody.
7. Bad Blood
Where do we go from here? // I think we said enough is the key message of Bad Blood. The song has a bit of a dark mood to me. I have to say that a song like this seventh one also illustrates a certain limitation in the songs of the band. Within a playtime of almost four minutes, I just expect that there is more happening in the song. It feels a bit too repetitive to me.
8. By Your Side
I feel that what I felt negatively about Bad Blood, is much better at By Your Side. The song is even longer (by a couple of seconds), but overall, it is much easier and much more fun to listen to By Your Side. A beautiful, emotional track, which is definitely one of my favorites of the Mexico album.
While four of the first five songs have been single releases before the album releases, Forever is the only song the fans know already in the seven songs thereafter. The song is a beautiful love song, a straight good listen folk track with a touch of pop and country elements. Nice one
I feel I was chasing, chasing a dream that I’d never know And most of my life, I was looking for trouble Baby, I was broken down, I was shipwrecked, I was low And you came into my life when I had nowhere to go The day that I met you It was forever The day that I met you It was forever
This song is indeed a bit of Heavy-hearted. Ian Hooper and his band mates, however, create a nice direct, personal atmosphere. Songs like this one, where the band is having a strong focus on the vocals, are typically convincing performances on this album. So does the tenth song.
11. Gold To Me
The song is more melodic than the previous one, but it still comes with that nice acoustic-style atmosphere and a beautiful spotlight on the lyrics. The result is a beautiful love song stating Cause baby, you’re like gold to me. Nice finish with brass sounds and clapping – could be another really nice one live on stage
12. Deadman’s Island
Mighty Oaks give their farewell from Mexico with the Deadman’s Island. I like the instrumental arrangement here – the end of the song features brass sounds again as well. On the other hand, the song is very close to other tracks on this record. The song thus inevitably gets the touch of being on this record to reach a certain volume of songs. Unfortunately, it is not the only one in here.
Mighty Oaks – Mexico – Spotify
You can listen to Mexico here:
Mighty Oaks – Mexico – My View
Mexico is a nice folk track, which is touching elements of other genres. It contains nice stories and different sounds. Unfortunately, the album gets a bit too monotonous towards the end. Furthermore, I would like to have deeper, more complex lyrics here and there. There is a lot of more potential in this band. At Mexico, the trio just feels like not daring to use it.