radio performance January 2019
NEW ALBUM FOR SUMMER 2020!
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
Show review 2.18.16
“Last night was one of those amazing nights at The Green Growler - both John Michael Hersey and Randy Niles TOTALLY ripped it up. In fact at one point in the evening when Randy was playing, the art piece next to the stage fell off the wall...That's the sign of a good night.....along with an encore of JMH's Bowie nod, you really don't get better than that- Thanks to everyone who came down!”
— Frank Migliorelli
Adirondack review 5.23.14
“They do say that there’s nothing like adversity to drive the strength of lyrics. Having spent time becoming familiar with the harder side of fortune, John Michael Hersey surely writes some strong words, with powerful tunes to carry those words. The folk rock and folk ballad songs on his album, Adirondack, relate a journey through tough times laying down feelings in song. It’s raw, hard, observant and thought provoking. ‘Walking to the Light’ takes you into the man's music, and it’s immediately obvious that here’s a songwriter that delivers sharp hooks and stark messages. And what’s more, here’s a voice that matches the thoughts expressed. The achingly observant ‘What Do You Think?’ is a potent song telling its truth without pulling its punches, while the solid understanding, poignant poetry and gentle melody of ‘Difficult Man’ make a point well worth the recognition – this is tough love indeed. Built around a touching piano track, Hersey expands his observations with ‘The World Came To Town’ – reflecting his own feelings through a hard to bear view of 9/11; then throughout the mournful reality of ‘Keeping Each Other Company’ and the essential truth of ‘A Bar Of Gold’ he lays down more strong narratives. Adirondack, written, performed and produced by Hersey (except for a poem written by Victor T. Runowicz), allows you to hear a man share experiences in a way that make them easy to understand without blunting their hard edge.” - Tom Franks
show review 3.21.14
“Kicking off a show at the West End Lounge in NYC in support of his new CD, Adirondack, John Michael Hersey’s opening narrative takes you through images of the scenic Adirondacks: “Snow capped mountains, a clear blue sky with a graceful eagle soaring through it.” Then suddenly the imagery switches to a “20-foot fence topped off with gleaming razor wire.” No one in the audience is prepared for the abrupt and jarring reality that follows as he announces that this is where he’ll be spending the next one to three years as an inmate at the Adirondack Correctional Facility after pleading guilty to grand larceny. This back story sets you up for Hersey’s journey from inmate, to parolee to free man and the songs reflect each part of that journey introduced by a short scripted setup. The songs lean toward Americana with roots and rock injected into the mix. A former member of the vocal group, the Cadillacs, Hersey is fluent on vocals as well as guitar. He also holds a Ph.D in ethnomusicology. Hersey performs the entire set with just guitar and the aid of drummer/percussionist John DiGiulio, which solidly fills out the songs, giving the boost they need in the more blues/rock numbers. The juxtaposition of Hersey’s educational credits, musical abilities and personal profile of otherwise good-man-gone astray has the makings of something far more dramatic and, with some re-writes and strong direction, could evolve into a good piece of theater. Hersey infused humor and levity into his delivery along with the appropriate amount of humility, but one can only imagine the pain that accompanied this time in his life. More poignant evidence of this would add to the overall emotional spectrum without being too weighty and would involve the audience at an even deeper level. If an artist needs personal fodder to fuel their art, there is no shortage of it here. With tweaking and additional guidance, this set could develop into something bigger; and at a time when our moral compass is faltering, Hersey’s story could find its way into popular culture. If music does indeed have the power to heal, then this concept work might have been Hersey’s best route to redemption and perhaps to even greater musical success. ” - Ellen Woloshin