Album Review: Michael J Tinker – The Shores of Amerikay

Shores of AmerikayLabel: Regather Music
Released: June 2012

Sheffield folk singer/ songwriter Michael J Tinker has produced an excellent debut album, full of nice tunes and interesting lyrics.

This is a melodic, often mellow album. Tinker sings with a clear, tuneful voice and plays both tasteful acoustic and smokin’ cigar-box guitars! Some of the songs and tunes are traditional but most of them are written by Tinker himself.  He likes to tell stories, as traditional folk songs often do; he is a thoughtful and emotional writer, his Christian faith informs his writing and choice of songs and the album has a subtle spirituality.  There is sadness and tragedy in a number of songs, but as Tinker says of the characters in the traditional song House Carpenter, “they both die – it’s folk”.

In essence this is an English folk album, perhaps the purest examples of this are Shores Of Amerikay, Bonny Boy and House Carpenter, but nonetheless this feels like an album with plenty of variety.  Whilst most songs tend to the restrained, some such as Get Along Cindy, The Snowstorm and Belfast are quite jaunty.

Michael has worked with a number of well-known local folk luminaries, such as Jon Boden of Bellowhead, who described Tinker as “top notch, with real verve and lightness of touch”, Damien O’Kane, Tom Oakes, and Katriona Gilmore, who contributes mandolin, fiddle and some backing vocals to the album.

This is a work of quality and subtlety, it is a restful album, in the sense that it feels like something you might play late at night, with impeccable musicianship, good tunes and interesting lyrics.  There is heart and soul in these recordings.

I recommend you check Michael J Tinker out at, or live at his monthly residency at the Red Deer in Sheffield city centre.

– Simon Benton


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