Mike Vial releases new album at the Robin Theatre
Thursday, April 20 @ The Robin Theatre, 1105 S. Washington Ave., Lansing. $15/$10 adv., 7 p.m.
Michigan-folk troubadours Mike Vial and Jen Sygit share a double bill Thursday at the Robin Theatre. Vial is celebrating the release of his fourth disc, “A World That’s Bigger.” The album, inspired by the stripped-down production of Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” LP, was recorded in a Northern Michigan cabin in the spring of 2016 using minimal recording gear and three acoustic guitars. Vial, an Ann Arbor resident, said the album is a candid take on his work.
“We spent three days in a cabin in Indian River, and I recorded the entire thing live,” Vial said. “After 150 takes, we took the best 10. No overdubs; no edits. It’s just me sitting in a chair with my acoustic guitars, singing the songs I wrote about life, death and my family.”
Over the past year, Vial has had plenty of real-life fodder for his songwriting. And it’s documented on the new record.
“Last year, three days after my record came out, a car hit me as I was crossing the road to play at the Ark,” he said. “Then three days after that, my wife leaned over me as I laid in bed and said, ‘I'm pregnant.’
“My head is still spinning,” Vial added. “I’m lucky to still be here as a father and person who is still searching for the next song.”
Vial’s pop-laced Americana tunes also delve into the financial pressures that come with being a husband, new parent and first-time home owner. The title track celebrates the birth of his first child, but also addresses the accompanying anxieties.
“I looked up how expensive college will be for Ginny in 17 years, and it was half of the mortgage of the house,” he said. “I had to write a song to calm my nerves.”
Vial said his past records have been traditionally produced, but obtaining a natural flow was important for him this time around. He and his friend Mike Gentry engineered it to feel organic.
“In the past, I've always let producers convince me I had to do my records to click tracks and record all the parts separately,” he said. “While I’m proud of my catalogue of releases, after doing three EPs and various singles and playing over 1,000 gigs, I finally had the courage to do this in a more authentic fashion that fits me.”
“A World That’s Bigger” is available for purchase or streaming at mikevial.bandcamp.com.