WHYY house Concert series 3.23.21
The fifty minute hour review - February 2021
“Some time ago the editor-in-chief sent us a link - in these modern times an underlined formula is enough to get a whole world through your boxes - with the additional message: “Interesting?”. Well, dear editor, it was a discovery. We lied a little bit. The artist in question, John Michael Hersey, also had a brief announcement in house in which he informed “worldwide” that the present CD - in formula form - was conceived as "a coming of age solo musical about a small town musician who finds himself on the therapist's couch that is New York City ”. According to the title of the CD, "The Fifty Minute Hour", that therapeutic story would have taken him just under an hour. That is a lot less than - we only drop one name - Bob Dylan, who at the time needed a few more albums to grow up in NY. And the question is whether his Bobness has completely succeeded? But we deviate. Not a full hour and yet fifteen songs. They are usually short songs, most of which are steeped in a solid musical tradition that could easily run on the circuit in London's West End without much adjustment. Catchy tunes, lots of piano songs, something between vocals and patter. For the enthusiasts, we recommend, for example, I'm Not What She Had In Mind. By the way, this title illustrates that John Michael obviously needs some psychological support. I Can't Get Out Of Bed and I Think I'm Shrinking are another of those titles that don't necessarily make you happy. So conversations in front of the Freudian seat. The piano ballad Merry Christmas, Stranger is nothing more than a crystallized icicle on a Christmas tree in lonely New York. The bluesy The Long Weekend is equally wintry and lonely. In the “ldvd” section it only scores highly on piano and atmospheric backing It Doesn't Get Better Than You: classic but beautiful. Apparently Hersey thought so too, because he repeats - albeit from a changed perspective - the melody and (almost) the title in the closing track It Doesn't Get Better Than This. Of course you get a CD full, a mop might say, but we don't want to hear that for a while. What is left in the box? A lot of musical stuff, as already mentioned, and sometimes - and that's a small criticism - completely exchangeable songs. Water, Water is a welcome change and exception and All The Time In The World has enough production to appeal to the body. John Michael Hersey has filled almost an hour with "The Fifty Minute Hour" with strong, but also a few weaker songs, usually with a lot of darkness but now and then also a dash of light, often only on the piano and sometimes in a slightly wider production. An exciting hour with some unpleasant moments. So like in the classroom. The hours lasted fifty minutes there too.” - Frank Tubex
the fifty minute hour review - Dec. 2020
“John Michael Hersey has just released a massive full-length album and it touches on the more contemporary side of the songwriter’s abilities. The Fifty Minute Hour still holds true to Hersey's staple theatrical feel and variety in songwriting but also boasts some wonderful piano work and brings out the jazz influence as songs feel almost like showtunes and seems very much like a concept album. You really feel like you just watched a full-on play and that's such an outstanding thing to accomplish. To be able to paint visual pictures and lay it all out with such detail and with such a bright performance that it all comes together with a near flawless performance. Piano rock, ballads, and more all rolled up in one huge record and sonically produced with a shine and vibrant feel, The Fifty Minute Hour is easy to get caught up in right from the first track. You want to hear what happens next constantly so you keep listening. Bringing artists like Billy Joel to mind at times, and crossing it with songs that sound like they were written in the late 50's other times, there are real deal genuine crooner tracks on this record. One of our favorites and in a timely manner to boot, is "Merry Christmas Stranger". This is an excellent and original Christmas song that tells a story. Hersey has a way of telling stories and keeping everything colorful. This album is a full deep dive and it's worth every minute. ” - Recording Artists Guild
I have no head review Nov. 2020
“John Michael Hersey isn't getting much sleep in his new video for " I have No Head". The single is bordering on a math indie rock style and with each part transfixes you further and the video certainly joins that ride. A psychedelic rock romp of a video, it offers a glimpse into the mind of John Michael Hersey and it's a hell of a glimpse indeed. Guitars and keys follow each other making for a robust sound and although the video is a little on the horror movie side of things, it's quite fun. There is something about this song that gives of a little bit more of a 90's alternative feel bringing to mind bands like Primus or even Tool. The great thing about that Hersey does is that with each new piece of content he releases he pushes the envelope and himself to create something different than the last, and always has a bit of a shock factor. You really never know what to expect next from this artist but you can be sure you won't be able to stop watching or listening. Enjoy "I Have No Head" ” - Recording Artists Guild
THE REINCARNATION OF A ROCK REVIEW - FALL 2020
“This is an unusual album. It's decidedly progressive rock based. It's a series of shorter pieces, with both instrumental and vocal numbers. There are recurring themes, but there is also a wide range of sounds and concepts. This is often slightly off-kilter (in a good way), twisted just a bit off from mainstream. It's generally very effective, too. ” - Gary Hill
The Reincarnation of a rock review - October 2020
“Out of the New York state comes multi-instrumentalist JOHN MICHAEL HERSEY, a very talented and diverse musician who has a very good voice and he is also very productive, because The reincarnation of rock is already his 13th album. The included music is a bit 1970s inspired quirky progressive pop/rock like a mixture between JETHRO TULL, FISCHER Z, THE SPARKS, KAYAK and GENESIS. 19 songs are included and it is a very diverse album, with mostly short songs that are based around a melody. You can even trace late 1960s THE BEATLES influences here and thankfully it's all done at a high level, so John's music is definitely recommended. It's not pure prog, but sure has the elements when listening to songs like A soul in transition and Sacred cow, while on the other hand it also has that 1970s experimental kinda quirky pop/rock moments like we heard by so many bands in that decade. It's a real adventure and a very good one, which will please a lot of the musicfans whom long back to the days when music was all about improvisation. ”
I'm a rat review Oct. 2020
“The newest single from John Michael Hersey classically dubbed "I'm A Rat" is a portrayal of a metaphor using quite literal lyrics and the best way to listen to this track is to watch the video (above). "I'm A Rat" has a rock vibe with an almost frantic jazz undertone as it's keys pound away while the song gets more lyrically descriptive with an edge of repugnancy and regret for the songs character. The single is part of a massive full length album called The Reincarnation Of A Rock which contains some incredible piano work along with it's slightly outside the box rock style. With cinematic instrumental songs, waltzes, and songs that sound like they could easily be part of a theatrical performance, this record has a lot to soak in but damn it's fun to do so. The more you listen to The Reincarnation Of A Rock, the more it feels like a concept album which is why it's best heard in it's entirety. The album is musically mature and showcases Hersey's experience as a songwriter and player all while having plenty of fun. There are even classic rock styles along the ride but all the while the record is incredibly descriptive and detailed. Hersey held nothing back with this album and it has a ton to offer.” - Recording Artists Guild
radio performance January 2019
Lil eucalyptus grove review Sept 2020
“John Michael Hersey released a wonderful new track called “Lil Eucalyptus Grove” This is an interesting track, the music is almost playful! The piano/keyboard is terrific. The lyrics are fantastic I love it! Be sure to listen to this great track and please leave your feedback below. Add this to your playlist today.” - Ella Audrey Rae
Dreamtime review 5.28.18
“John Michael Hersey crafts a theatrical 80s rock play on the joyous “Dreamtime”. Done with such a great deal of love, John Michael Hersey reveals his fantastic storytelling abilities over the course of the epic journey. With a great attention to detail, the songs careen wildly. Songs work together, flowing from the last. By framing the entire thing in a sort of unique coming-of-age quality, the whole piece feels outright infectious in its unbridled joyousness. Rhythms drive the whole thing forward, while John Michael Hersey’s voice reigns supreme tying all of it together. A laid-back opener the title track “Dreamtime” features a unique tenderness to it. Nearly summery in its style, “Ferry’s Slip Inn” goes for a kind of weird exploration of place. Dramatic flourishes flow through the entirety of “How Do You See Me?” By far the highlight and reminiscent of Rocky Horror Picture Show’s theatrical glam rock is the playful “The Heartbreak Kid”. Infinitely catchy, “A Mystery To Me” offers a jazz-inflected rock, poppy to its very core. Jumpy rhythms rest at the heart of “Ghosts In Your Bedroom”. Sprawling out a bit and featuring glowing keyboards “Every Reason To Fail” works wonders conveying a sense of anxiety. Things slow down considerably on the reflective “Give Me A Break”. Blues swing through on “The Bottom Line”. Inspirational to its very core “Keep On Turning It Out” ends things on a gentle note. “Dreamtime” proves to be an absolute, unhinged kind of joy, one sung straight from the heart, showing off John Michael Hersey’s uncanny ear for melody.” - Beach Sloth
Joshua (J. Smo) Smotherman
In this interview spotlight, we chat with singer/songwriter John Michael Hersey about his latest project, influences, challenges and more. Where are you from and what style of music do you create? (In your own words, not necessarily in marketing terms or by popular genre classifications.)
I grew up in New Jersey but have spent most of my life in the New York City area. My style? What a question! Pop through the filters of rock, folk, blues, etc.
What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to stay the course?
I heard the Beatles when I was a kid and ever since then John Lennon has been my guiding angel.
How is your new release different than previous ones? Did you set out to accomplish anything specific?
I think my voice, vocally and artistically, is stronger now, more natural. I’m always looking for that sweet spot in the way a recording sounds and flows. Perfection is always unattainable but it’s the journey not the destination, baby!
Do you face challenges as an indie musician in a digital age? How has technology helped you (assuming it helps)?
it’s certainly easier to record and distribute a record, but promotion and marketing is tougher than ever. With millions of records on the internet, how do you make yours stand out? You still need help from somewhere.
Anything else before we sign off?
Thank you for your interest and support! Keep loving the music!