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
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!
personal belongings review 7.23.17
“[English translation] Listening to John Michael Hersey's music is like immersing yourself in a bath of sensations, lights, atmospheres and pleasantly familiar rhythms; it is to fly continuously in time, now backwards, then forward and vice versa and always in a continuous present, because the amalgamation of classic and basic rock styles (such as blues, folk and country) that exude from the songs of Personal Belongings make this album a timeless act, a handcrafted piece to enjoy quietly anytime, anywhere. In truth, John Michael Hersey is a really complete singer-songwriter, as well as very experienced. For this his most recent LP, he has written and composed the songs, and is also the producer of them. He sings and plays the guitar, with remarkable brilliance in both aspects, in all the songs, supported by excellent musicians. His guitar, always expressive, precise and exuberant, perfectly accompanies a voice that is delightful, well-groomed, warm and capable of transmitting with beauty and intensity the various feelings and emotions evoked in stories that are highly autobiographical. They captivate with their sophisticated but accessible sound, and their continuous winks to other decades and heroes of pop-rock. All this with the original signature of Hersey, a brilliant and substantial musician who, now in a state of grace, brings us his genuine art. ” - ROCKGARDENER1
personal belongings review 6.20.17
“With a lazy Sunday afternoon playfulness to it is John Michael Hersey’s thoughtful singer-songwriter sound of “Personnel Belongings”. Showing off an impressive knack for storytelling the songs unfurl in a clever concise way. Throughout the album, John Michael Hersey taps into feelings of yearning, relationships, and simply trying to get through life in whatever way possible. Sonically the songs draw from a wide variety of styles, going all the way from pop to blues to folk with everything else in between. Opening the album up with true style is the mellowed atmosphere of “Get Through”. Easily the highlight of the album, the song feels like a long lost 70s AM pop hit. Sunny and shimmering the song has a comforting, soothing feeling to it. With a swinging style is the western twang of “Gig in The Street”. Slowing things down quite a bit is the reflective “When it Rains”. Downright infectious is the carefree work of “Hole in My Heart”. With a little bit of heat is the burning blues of “La Dolce Blues”. Carefully crafted is the hushed awed of “Lady of The Day”. Rollicking with a strong rock presence is “A Little Lovin’”. Infinitely cool with a hint of jazz is the spaciousness of “The Beaten Path”. Ending the album with an intimate spirit is the stripped down and bare sound of “Reachin’”. Possessing a timeless, classic sound, John Michael Hersey’s “Personnel Belongings” lingers in the mind long after it is over. ” - Beach Sloth
you got to me review 9.30.16
“Delivered with true spirit is the impassioned work of John Michael Hersey’s “You Got To Me”. John Michael Hersey’s vocals serve as the heart of the album as his expressive lyricism works wonders. Carefully crafting an intricate narrative over the course of the album John Michael Hersey explores the concept of relationships and the many complications they often run into. Tapping into a wonderful kaleidoscopic rush of styles ranging from indie rock to classic rock all couched within a singer-songwriter framework, the songs have a luxurious fully formed sound to them. Layer upon layer of sound come together ever so elegantly from the vamp of the organ to the expressive percussion that punctuates the pieces. At times John Michael Hersey’s highly articulate, intricate arrangements feel reminiscent of Jon Brion’s soundtrack work. Opening the album off on a high note is the loose and gentle spirit of “You Saved My Life”. With a level of restraint, the song has a slightly jazzy feeling to it as it slowly unfurls. Downright leisurely is the lovely “You Got To Me” by far the highlight of the album. A sense of gleefulness dominates on the playful “Don’t Shy Away”. Stripping the sound down to the absolute essentials is the nimble guitar work of “In The Dark”. Another highlight reveals itself in the rollicking spirit of “It’s Not Black And White”. Bringing the album to a joyful finale is the tender ballad of “Yes, I Love You”. John Michael Hersey’s “You Got To Me” offers a timeless take on pop music.” - Beach Sloth