Never Look Back / Eyes of a Child
Artist: Michael Fitz
Distributed by: MAGJOY Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I recently received a pair of CDs by performer Michael Fitz for review. The title of the album, Never Look Back, was intriguing to me. I was hoping I interpreted the meaning correctly – that this album presented a turning point in the performer’s life and that he was leaping forward with no intention of looking back. The other CD was a single – a holiday song called Eyes of a Child. Who can pass up a holiday song so close to Christmas? Thus, it was with eagerness that I popped the first CD into the player and prepared to hear what Michael Fitz had to offer.
Michael Fitz was born in Lexington, Kentucky and was raised on his grandfather’s tobacco farm. Michael showed an interest in music and poetry at an early age, writing poetry as early as eight years old and learning to play the guitar at eleven. Music and lyrical composition were his passion, but Michael Fitz somehow found himself working in an offshore drilling platform. Fitz jokes, “I had a bad habit, I wanted to eat… that’s why I started working offshore.” Strange enough beginnings for a career in music, but the isolation and loneliness of offshore drilling inspired him to begin writing songs. It seems that I was correct about the title of Never Look Back. The debut album’s title seems to signify the singer’s determination to be a part of the music scene and leave the drilling world behind. He’s not about to look back at the past, but live every moment to its fullest as he moves closer to his goals.
I loved the music found in Never Look Back. Michael Fitz is obviously a talented guitarist and along with John Perez on guitars, Tony Brock on drums, Leland Sklar on bass, Sterling Smith on keyboards, Larry Klimas on saxophone, Lee Thornberg on trumpets, Lon Price on clarinet, Nick Lane on trombone and David McKelvy on harmonica (with Derol Caraco on guitar for the song Shooting Star), he produces a sound that is as full-bodied as a blues album can get. I love the fact that Fitz didn’t just settle on your usual instruments to create his sound (guitars, drums, keyboards), but included instruments that add some flare and soul. This is what made the band Chicago such a huge sensation.
Michael Fitz is a born storyteller and that comes through in his lyrics. Fitz has more than just a talent for the written word - taking a story, making it rhyme and sound melodic enough to flow perfectly with music is no simple task, but Michael Fitz seems more than up for the challenge. My favorite examples of this lyrical talent appear in Shooting Star, the story of a man in love with a woman who loves someone else, and Temptation, the driving force in all of us.
After listening to Never Look Back, I simply had to check out Eyes of a Child. The song is perfect for the holiday season, reminding us of the wonders of it all when seen through the eyes of a child. Once again, musically and lyrically, I found Eyes of a Child to be thoroughly enjoyable. I only had one problem – Michael Fitz’s voice. Low and gravelly, this is simply not the sort of voice for this kind of holiday song. In fact, there are times when his voice sounds pitchy. I think, performed by someone else…someone like Josh Groban, maybe, this song would definitely be something that would find some serious radio play over the holiday season.
I had the same issue with Never Look Back. Michael Fitz’ voice has a bluesy sound to it, but it is somewhat inconsistent and can often be pitchy. And yet, there are some songs on the album that I feel his voice is absolutely perfect for. I chalk this up to a new singer finding his niche and expect that the next album from Michael Fitz will contain a more polished singer to match the talented musician and songwriter. All-in-all, I’d say that Never Look Back isn’t bad for a debut album. The music and well-thought out lyrics alone are enough to make it enjoyable experience. As far as Eyes of a Child, it’s a bust on the singing, but an A+ on the music and lyrics.