Published Jul 17, 2009He may now make his living as a songwriter in Nashville but there's nothing assembly line about Mike Plume's new record. It's definitely more Corb Lund than Toby Keith (thankfully) and the reunion with his former Western Canadian band is a successful one. Former fans of his barroom brand of country rock will find plenty to enjoy here, and he deserves to make some new ones. The opening title track is an infectious, flag-waving romp (co-written with Jason McCoy) that avoids cheesiness, while there's a hockey theme to "More Than A Game." Plume has a convincingly gritty voice that's occasionally evocative of Steve Earle, while the very cool and slinky "Mine All Mine" has a Mink DeVille vibe. Homespun advice is offered on "Weeds" and "Give A Little To Get A Little," and Plume digs deep on "Junior," a convincing portrait of a battle scarred veteran Earle would be proud to claim. Not everything works (the rather banal "Half Full Is The Cup" has a pseudo-ska feel) but 8:30 Newfoundland is certainly worth some of your time.
The album isn't a mainstream country record; it has stylistic variety. Did that come naturally?
My problem, and it probably is a problem for radio programmers, is that I just listen to everything. If I feel like writing a ska song that is what it's gonna be. I'd start playing some chords and maybe the melody will lead you where it wants to go. That may sound artsy and precious but it's true.
You do more co-writing now?
Yes. The thing with co-writing is that it's like a blind date: your publisher sets you up with someone, you get there and you can tell within five minutes if you're going to get a song. A friend of mine (Kevin Welch) told me he was in a horrific songwriting session one day and he got up to go to the washroom and walked right out of the door. Left his guitar there! But I tracked him down and we finished the song [laughs]. I've had that feeling. I have a few guys I really enjoy writing with and they're mostly Canadian: Jason McCoy, Clayton Bellamy, Brian Byrne. They'll come over to my house, we'll sit around the backyard, talk like this, somebody will come up with a line and we'll go, "that sounds like a good idea for a song" and we'll hammer away at it. Some co-writers are just lyric guys but I don't really enjoy that because I think I'm a lyrics guy too. If they just want me to write the music, it doesn't feel as good to me. (Clothes Horse)