Steeped in his influences, and a modern take on the ‘Yacht Rock’ genre, the track has that Californian feel that has spawned some of the finest music of our times. Think Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers and Christopher Cross and you’ll be in the right ballpark. And that West Coast sound is no accident, as Michael explains: –
“In 2018 I was invited to join US singer songwriter Ben Folds at a retreat in Ojai, California. I jumped at the chance, being a huge fan of Ben and his music and having never been to that part of America before. It was a truly life changing experience – I literally came home a different person. We spent several days writing new songs, finishing old songs, and generally just having a great time.”
“I fell in love with the quaint town of Ojai and the whole vibe and sound of the West Coast, where so many of my musical heroes made music which stands the test of time.”
Having previously worked with top record producers Keith Bessey & Warren Bennett on his earlier albums, Michael decided to take on all the production duties alone for this record, which was completed during the lockdown of 2020. But, using the wonders of modern technology, he was still able to continue his tradition of utilising some of the finest musicians in the world to play on the tracks. Once again, US No.1 saxophonist Ed Barker takes the horns, and string arrangements are courtesy of the legendary Simon Lockyer. For the first time on Michael’s recordings, fans are introduced to French guitar maestro, Antoine Saults, recently described by The Who’s Pete Townshend as ‘the future of music’.
The Brand-New Album
Released 25th June 2021
About Michael Armstrong
Michael Armstrong was born in South London in November 1973. His parents were not in the slightest bit musical, although they did listen to music frequently. Michael remembers car journeys singing along and harmonising with his brother to The Beatles Greatest Hits. He knew from a very early age that he wanted to express himself through music and song.
At around the age of 11 he began to seriously tackle learning the guitar and as soon as he was able to play 3 chords he had written his first song. Once he had mastered the guitar he taught himself to play the piano during Games lessons at school stating ‘I just couldn’t hack Rugby, not in the cold wet weather’. Luckily his lack of interest and ability in the sport was confirmed by his teachers who were happy to leave him tinkering away in the music room.
At the age of 15 he entered a song writing competition on BBC’s Pebble Mill At One, coming in second place to a 16 year old Mancunian called Gary Barlow. Take that! By 18, he had his own band and performed his original material across the country eventually playing several nights at The Shepherds Bush Empire in London.
By the age of 23, having toured incessantly, Michael became disillusioned with the music business and joined his father at the family construction company. For 15 years they grew the company to huge success and Michael lived a happy and fruitful life with his wife and three children.
In 2011 a string of events suddenly sent Michael on a new but familiar path. His father’s health led him to retirement and Michael’s own health scare led him to assess his situation. Some might call it a mid-life crisis! Coupled with the failing UK economy and a chance encounter with music biz guru Lisa Davies, Michael felt the world of showbiz beckoning him again. He had also amassed some 200 songs that had never been released. Seeing his talent, and amazed by his music, Lisa became Michael’s manager and set about raising his profile across the business.
After receiving great reactions to an EP, Michael set about recording his debut album ‘Michael Armstrong’ which was eventually released on 29th June 2015. It was met with resounding success, championed by the late Terry Wogan on BBC Radio 2 and gaining airplay across the globe. The album featured guitar giants Albert Lee (2 x Grammy Award Winner), Elliott Randall (Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers) and Phil Palmer (Bob Dylan, Robbie Williams) and was produced by Keith Bessey (10cc, Cliff Richard, The Ramones).
As a result of the album’s success, Michael has since been interviewed and has performed on just about every radio station in the land several times over. He has additionally gained major airplay across the globe including the UK’s BBC Radio 2, and mainstream stations all over Europe, USA, Australia and South America, where his single ‘The Radio Years’ was a Top 10 hit. This has further led to numerous appearances on national TV such as ITV’s Lorraine, Sky News, BBC News, ITN plus he is a regular on Vintage TV.
A dedicated touring artist, Michael has performed with some of the biggest names in the business. He has spent over two years ‘on the road’ headlining his own shows as well as appearing as a special guest on major tours with Leo Sayer, Vonda Shepard, T’Pau, Beverley Craven, Dean Friedman & The Hollies’ Peter Howarth. He has also collaborated and worked alongside massive global stars including Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Cliff Richard, Mark Knopfler, Glenn Fry, Chris de Burgh, Russell Watson, Hank Marvin, Michael Ball and countless others.
In 2016 Michael released the official 60th Anniversary commemorative single for Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club and performed it on stage at the venue during a very special celebratory party which included many associated local and national dignitaries. That same year he was invited to open the Great British Radio Reunion with his anthem ‘The Radio Years’ and was selected by his local authority to perform and present an award at their Annual Local Heroes Awards Ceremony in conjunction with BBC radio.
In 2018 Michael released his second album #LookingForTheWorld, again to great critical and commercial acclaim. Singles from the album including the title track were played on radio across the globe, as Michael set out on his biggest promotional tour to date. During the USA leg, Michael was invited to spend some time with one of his great musical influences, singer songwriter, Ben Folds. They spent a week together in Ojai, California, where much of what was to become Michael’s third studio album was conceived. Following the promo tour, Michael returned to the UK for a sell-out London show, which was to kick start a full UK and European tour, only to be scuppered by the global pandemic.
Unable to perform and in isolation, Michael set about recording the songs he had written on the West Coast in his home studio and the result, ‘Ojai’, the brand-new album will be released on 25th June 2021. Plans are afoot to tour the album with his international band in 2022, Covid-19 permitting.
“Sharp, harmonious and lyrically spellbinding, this is music delivered by a proper musician who takes chances while paying homage to a golden past in songwriting.”
– Lesley-Ann Jones (Music critic & biographer)
“An incredible talent.”
– David Wigg (Daily Mail)
“This guy is seriously good!”
– Richard Madeley (BBC Radio 2)
“This has got to be included in my favourite albums I’ve ever purchased”
– Sir Paul McCartney
“I had a feeling he had something special…I was right!”
– Elliott Randall (Steely Dan)
“It’s almost as if he’d heard my entire music collection and picked up on the best bits.”