Weighing in at 32 tracks, Forage & Glean, Volumes I&II (out June 1) is the tenth full-length studio album from Seattle-born singer-songwriter Mike Spine. The two volumes serve as an anthology of Spine’s best songwriting and recording across the last two decades. The first sheds light upon the artist’s folk and rock material, ranging from “Crumble” and “Meteorite” to “Sand in Your Teeth”. Those songs run the gamut from the personal to the political and spaces in between.
In each, Spine brings a sense of compassion and authority, such as in “Black Diamond”, which tells the stories of families who came to work in the coal mines outside Seattle early in the last century. The second volume features Spine’s rock and punk material. Unsurprisingly, the material remains very much focused on the political with “Kiss and Remember”, “Second Hand” and “Power Broker”.
The collection reveals a certain affinity for British rock in the vein of Queen (“Delirious”), the intersection of Latin music with popular European-influenced music (“La Frontera”) and, across the board he reveals an ability to tell stories that’ll capture your imagination (“The Beautiful Sunset”) and potentially break your heart (“Primrose Hill”). That Spine swings so easily and readily between the quiet and loud is fascinating, that he does it so comfortably is remarkable.
The diversity of ideas and voices within his own work is as remarkable as Spine’s own biography. Having leapt between a variety of genres, he also taught language arts and social studies to inner city youths in Seattle, Portland, Oregon, New York and London, ultimately retiring from education in 2011. Since then, he’s traveled to a variety of locales including Italy, Vietnam, Cambodia and Costa Rica, while splitting his living time between the United States and Europe.
For someone who likes to travel far and wide and draw from a breadth of music, there are some commonalities to be heard on this collection. The material was mostly recorded and mixed at Haywire Recording in Portland, Oregon with longtime engineer Rob Bartleson (Wilco, Pink Martini) at the helm and master by Ed Brooks (Pearl Jam, Heart) at RFI/Resonant in Seattle. The musicians were culled from North America, South America and Europe, allowing a wide range of feelings and voices to emerge.
Forage & Glean, Volumes I & II will be available on CD and download on June 1st, 2018. Pre-orders are available here.