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This Is Strange by Michael Dalton album review

How to descibe Michael Dalton for those who don’t know him or his music? At first glance, perhaps, one would say, A Bohemian Rogue, a Sonic Wayfarer, or a Grassroots Guitar-player and Songwriter...but he is much more than that. The album was written intended for the RPM Challenge, but luckily for the rest of us, it is a sonic snapshot that we can also enjoy.

Here are some words that come to my mind:

  • Hypnotic

  • Quixotic

  • Gritty

  • Earthy

  • Adept

  • Ingenious

  • Spirited

  • Savvy

  • Mystical

  • Eloquent

  • Whimsical

  • Ecclectic

  • Artful

Alas, I lean to more flowery descriptions in my exaltation and ‘This Is Strange’ is darkly evocative and ethereally provocative at the same time. Michael Dalton is a skillful, accomplished, dexterous, and talented musician. His songwriting skills are crisp and agile, each song is unique in its own way, they are complex and beautiful things. As an artist, he can be both light and darkness, or deliciously shadowy, dwelling the realm of the in-between, neither completely of one nor the other, but relishing in the blessed otherness. A Barbarian, but just a mild barbarian.

Almost like a narrative of travellers upon the same road, Michael seemingly takes the listener to a forlorn, abandoned, possibly delapidated and decrepit house. But, he appreciates the ruin as a monument to it’s once magnificent stature, and he sees the ghosts of it there. You have been playfully forewarned, not really an ominous beware, it is more like a welcome to the tribe kind of vibe, so “this is stange” and just enjoy the music.

I always feel transported through time and space with Michael’s music, it is traditional folk, with beatnik blues, and a rocking beat using the hand on the guitar as percussion. Utilitarian and minimalist, yet pure, often whimsical, sometimes primal, sometimes funky, bold, or quiet and reverent, yet always deeply resonant.

Spoken word, fused with a bohemian Beat-Poet vibe, and a dash of whimsical soundscapes captured from real life. Among the sounds are samples of sirens, slurping, crumpling, chomping peanuts, pouring drinks, growling, walking, beat-boxing, clapping, and breathing. Yet, more than sampling, though, they are sincere sonic snapshots of a moment immortalized in a song. Michael’s lyrics are raw and honest, tapping right into the vein of universal emotions we all share.

Jack Kerouac believed the road to be a sacred, holy place, so too, does iconoclast-in-the-making, Michael Dalton. Michael takes us on another sonic adventure using experimentation and his laconic wit. Michael is a perpetual wayfarer, but make no mistake he is not merely wandering aimlessly - he revels and cherishes the sacredness of the journey rather than the destination.

I cannot give up the ghost, so to speak, and explain everything away - for that would take away some of its magical potency. I will allow the sonic alchemy to take place naturally as it should, and let the listener discover for themselves all that is Michael Dalton. The man, and the musician. The poet, and the mystic. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, or deprive the listener of the unknown becoming known to them in their own way, so you can listen from the purely naked slate and paint on that canvass for yourself.

I will whet your appetite by giving you a taste of what is to come, with the song entitled ‘Everything Is Different’ which can stand on its own as a poem, or a solemn incantation, it is a work of art unto itself. It slowly lingers like a ring of smoke, then fades away into the night:

And, things are different after you spoke those words

‘Cause I knew those words were true...

From the movement of the spheres

To the movement of my thumb

Everything has changed-

Although you have come to a strange hallowed place, it feels like home and you know, accept, love and revel in it. If, perhance you feel the need to growl, grunt, snarl, or bay at the sight of the full moon, well that is quite alright, and may be even encouraged in this strange and lovely place. Embrace the odd, be proud of all that is unusual for within you, for you shall find you are not the only one, my fellow traveler...

Don’t forget to dance once in a while...

"Ya, shake it!”


This is Strange

I Can Smell Games

Lochaber #1

Have a Drink

The Dead will Dance for Eternity

Our God without Shoes

Everything is Different

Not a Soul Around

Hey Scaredy Cat, the Sirens are for You

Lochaber #2


THIS IS STRANGE by Michael Dalton




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