When it comes to making conclusions, I’m not often conflicted. I know what I like and loathe, what I can tolerate and what tests my temper, the personality I’m partial to in a partner and the behaviors that don’t befit me. That also carries over to when I make decisions about music. I don’t like to be impartial about entertainment, so when Mike Cavanaugh sings in his song Springtime in December, “You better be damn sure about how you feel about me because I will surprise you, I will surprise you,” I knew I couldn’t be neutral and nonchalant.
Keeping true to his words, Mike Cavanaugh does surprise in his songs. An acoustic folk singer/songwriter living in Ontario, Canada by way of Boston, Massachusetts, the sound that surfaces in Mike’s music isn’t what I expected to hear. Cavanaugh seems cool and confident, but his lyrics are laced with self-doubt and downfalls. His vulnerabilities are vacillating, verified by his voice.
His insecurities aren’t indecisive, but barefaced and blatant. In Someone Else he sings, “Every time I see you I get nervous / It’s not your beauty or your gentle ways / It’s cause I know if I don’t play my cards right / You’ll be gone just as fast as you came / Cause someone else is bound to see the things that I do….” Playing piano for over 20 years, a piano his grandmother gave him when she passed, and self-taught on guitar and writing songs for 10, Mike is making a name for himself. With two albums already out – Hold On and Lonely, Lonely Place – Cavanaugh’s critics have beget Bob Dylan comparisons.
“My music has been my solace for along time,” Mike says, and we see that in some of his songs. In Pearls he proclaims, “I’m mixing things in this glass that’ll let me / Forget about you and how much you upset me / I saw the writing on the wall / I just couldn’t read it / If you can’t bare being alone / I understand why you need him / Don’t take your own advice / If it’s not any good / Cause I’d pay overprice / For pearls if I could.” His lyrics are personal and poignant, and not only a pretty good place to start, but an excellent place to end. In the same song I began with I’ll bring Cavanaugh to a close.
“Be careful my dear, I will surprise you, ya hear… / A pretty face, a pretty smile / Pretty soon, in a little while / You’re going to find out who you really are, and it will surprise you.” From Mike Cavanaugh I’ve found I’m not a fence-sitter. I’m not middle of the road about my music. Yes, Mike, I’m damn sure about how I feel about you, and it’s not surprising – if you want “someone to sing to,” as the song suggests, well I’m listening!