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All Day Dog's Breakfast
(2018 - Steel & Wire Recordings - UK)

Something one might not expect from one half of Animat (as well as one half of Rophonic). Michael Harding (sometimes called 'The Only Michael') from Sheffield, has produced an outstanding solo in the great story telling style of greats like Richard Thompson, Roy Harper, and others of that calibre. Harding has talent bubbling out of his pockets. All music is composed (except 'White Rolls Royce' written by Dave Stanton), performed, produced, and recorded by him. The tunes are mainly acoustic guitar and his vocals, with occasional backup added (for this studio album) such as piano, backing vocals, and sparse drums, bass, and slide guitar.

The name under which Harding uses (All Day Dog's Breakfast) is a variation of a dog's breakfast ("a bit of a mess", says Michael) combined with all day breakfast (a common menu item served in the UK among the eating places). Although when he plays live, it is just the guitar and him, the added touches of additional instruments is simply lovely. There is not a weak cut on the release and it is filled with an excellent cross selection of folk, blues, and beautiful ballad. Some of the songs are all instrumental such as 'Satin And Snakeskin' (track 4), which is deeply moving and also includes some electric guitar. 'Logan Place' (track 5) reminds me of Dave Cousins (Strawbs) with a choir's worth of backing vocals, and that touching hurt from a lost love. Brilliant framing with the arrangement too. The same can be said for the following tune 'Thin Red Line'.

Many of the songs will tug patiently at your heart strings and render you speechless. After several spins of 'All Day Dog's Breakfast', it clearly stays with the listener. Michael Harding shows another side of his musical self with a positively heartfelt, striking and absorbing album. 'All Roads Lead To Home' (track 9) is unbelievably great with lyrics to take away your breath. 'Flat Earth Society' (track 11) is another composition, making the audience take a gulp and feel the tingling in their soul. It is the longest song of the bunch at 5:20, and adds a bit of piano at the end. Outstanding!  The disc ends with 'Life Will Kill You', which picks up the pace, in a somewhat philosophical piece. What a way to conclude this gem of a release. These tracks will gain The Only Michael some new fans, and gain him giant respect from a music world that needs more musicians like this. Essential music, important and necessary for anyone who sincerely loves great song writing. An instant keeper. Recommended.

  ©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 12 - 15 - 2018


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