Artist:  Michael Dyer
Album:  Christmas Comes Just Once A Year
Review by Andrea Guy

It isn’t often that you can find a holiday album that neglects to include staples like "Winter Wonderland" or "White Christmas," but Michael Dyer’s Christmas Comes Just Once A Year does just that, and they aren’t even missed.  Dyer presents listeners with beautiful, festive and fun songs for the winter holidays.  Michael came up with the idea for this CD when he grew tired of the same ole same old music for the holiday. This inspired him to write “Santa, Ya Little Troll,” a song so fun that it will be on everyone’s holiday playlist.   Listening to Michael sing about Santa, not only leaving coal to a bad Michael, but also taking away the toys left by his parents, will definitely bring a few smiles and giggles.  Eleven more songs followed that one, and Christmas Comes Just Once A Year was born.  This is a must have for anyone that loves holiday music and wants something different, but still festive. Dyer’s take on the winter season is like warm fuzzy feelings crammed into a tiny CD.

 The inspiration for the songs come from many places, old holiday movies ("A Christmas BB Gun"), holiday songs (“Snow Flake Dog”), and holiday stories (“Christmas Comes Just Once A Year”).  Each song gives a special twist on something that many listeners hold dear, such as  “A Christmas BB Gun” which was inspired by the film A Christmas Story. If Ralphie sung a pop song during the film, this would have been it.

 Michael Dyer has a knack of taking the storyline of a classic song and reworking it into something modern. One of the best examples of this is the song “Snow Flake Dog,” which was inspired by the holiday classic “Frosty The Snowman” and his dog Frosty. “Snow Flake Dog,” however, feels more grown up than Frosty. The song is still lighthearted, but the lyrics have a maturity that Frosty didn’t have.  Another twist on a classic theme is “We Three Kings Of Rock N’ Roll.”  Michael paints a vivid picture of a rock band visiting the Christ child to play a gig.

 When Dyer tackles the New Year’s holiday, he does so with humor and spot-on accuracy.  “New Year Resolution” is every man and woman’s song.  The resolutions he wants to tackle are much the same that many try to take on each year.  Some of the lyrics will bring much laughter, especially when he resolves to “Drink less scotch and much more tea.”  He also wishes his listeners a happy New Year with “Have A Happy New Year,” a song that combines the melancholy with hopeful. Dyer’s voice, which at times sounds similar to David Gray, gives the song a medieval touch. His voice is perfectly suited for holiday songs, a little rock ‘n roll and pop, plus a touch of progressive rock that seems to add the festive touch to the songs. 

 The closing track, “Do The Xmas Rip,” is a funky dance number about opening Christmas presents. It has a great groove and a fun guitar riff to get heads bobbing. 

 Michael Dyer’s contribution to the seemingly endless parade of holiday CDs is one everyone in the family can enjoy. It has just the right mixture of lighthearted and mature tunes, so that it will appeal to young and old.  For those fans of holiday music looking for something more than just the standard carols to brighten their holiday season, Michael Dyer’s Christmas Comes Just Once A Year is the CD to choose.

Review by Andrea Guy

Rating:  5 stars (out of 5)

"Compli-Intricated Life" by Michael Dyer is an alternative soft rock album that takes an inventive look at love and relationships. It is certainly original, as it combines wavy soft elements with bassy vocals, wailing guitar solos and a strong indie-influence. Michael's lyrics have a nice flow to them and are quite clever. The album opens with "Alphabet Soup Love", which features lyrics that tell a story of betrayal based on....you guessed it....the letters floating in a bowl of alphabet soup. Tackling the topic of regret, "If I Could Undo" introduces a bit of a Latin flair in its guitar progression, and exhibits some nice instrumental changes. "Ethereal Night" exudes these same qualities, along with a danceable beat and more of an inspirational feel. If you like Death Cab for Cutie, you'll like this one.

Here are excerpts from Dan MacIntosh's review of the CD: Our Unwinding Time: "When folk musician (at the time) Roger McGuinn first heard The Beatles, he immediately set about combining his folk instincts with a new enthusiasm for British Invasion rock. This resulted in what is now known as folk/rock. When I listen to Our Unwinding Time by Michael Dyer, it suggests what McGuinn might have sounded like had he retreated further back into folk." ... "This CD's title track includes some striking lyrics: When my love starts enhancing Your love starts out bleeding When my love is repeating Your love is deleting ... " " ... Dyer is an expert lyricist, and many of these words would read just as well in a poetry book. "Coasting, The Crying Birds" is an excellent example of this disc's lyrical high quality. It says, in part:" "Coasting The crying birds And lately their wings are betraying The winds that blow The sunset's delaying ... " "... Unlike lesser singer/songwriters, Dyer's musicianship is just as integral as words and singing are to his art. The driving "Not Much Of A Dancer" includes intersecting guitar picking and strumming, which creates a strangely beautiful mood. At his most mystical, this playing reminds me of John McLaughlin's work in Mahavishnu Orchestra." ... "Dyer is a fine singer, although he lets his voice take a backseat to the words and instrumentation of his songs. I'm not quite sure who he sounds like. Gordon Lightfoot comes to mind, but ... Dyer is far more urgent than Mr. Sundown." "Our Unwinding Time is the sort of CD that reveals different layers of meaning with each play. ... Dyer creates highly emotional food for thought, which requires repeated rumination. ... Dyer's music makes you listen, meditate, and wonder."

This next review, of the CD: Nothing Seems Like What It Seems, occurred sometime in August 2007. Apparently the reviewer didn't like "You're the One" or "Full of It" and he thought there was a "hollowness" and "distant" sound on the CD, but he did say: "Strangely enough, however, this effect often works in favor of Dyer's songs." Here are some of his more positive comments: "... Nothing Seems Like What it Seems, is, to put it succinctly, a strange and often beautiful affair. ..." "The key to this disc lies in Dyer's guitar parts. He often layers at least two guitar lines together, one usually a smoother part, the second quite often a percussive, picked guitar part. The approach makes for a number of highly inventive, highly interesting guitar self-duels driving the majority of tracks on the album. Right from the opening track, Union of Souls, Dyer's guitar work had my attention, with his hard-hitting, driving work on the song, Nothing Seems Like What It Seems, elevating it to favorite track on the album. ..." "... Dyer's work delights for the most part. ..." "... Bottom line, Nothing Seems Like What It Seems, provides pleasant, and more importantly, due to Dyer's excellent guitar work, interesting listening."

Here is an Indie Music Stop review by L. Anne Carrington: Michael Dyer has been described as a master-level guitarist, composer, and arranger, with a rich baritone voice that is complementary to his musical style, falling within the genres of folk-rock and adult alternative contemporary rock/pop. Nothing Seems Like What It Seems is a CD of mystical acoustic rock with dual interacting lead guitars, intricate fingerpicking, strong bass themes, haunting voice and poetic lyrics. The majority of his songs are romantic; selections describing everything from love to loss, and disappointment and anger in love, can be found in titles such as "Union of Souls," "You're the One," "Luck of The Night," "The Dawn Is Still," "Nothing Seems Like What It Seems," "Translucent," and "Full Of It." The CD also contains other songs with other themes: the search for spiritual meaning in "The Trek," and the state of the environment in "Earthsong." Nothing Seems Like What It Seems is a very personal and emotional, and reaches deeply into the soul of the listener with both voice and lyrics. Each song stands out on its own, not something easily done by many artists. Unlike most music that is released nowadays, this is a CD that is smooth and easy on the ears, expressing what we feel but cannot express. And the unusual cover art? As a hobby, Michael enjoys glass-blowing. He employs techniques such as glass slumping, flame-working, glass casting and Venetian-style blowing. The covers of his CDs include images of some of his glass creations. He is as talented in glass blowing as he is in his music.



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