for LADY, TELL ME STRAIGHT
“Mike Uva makes smart, understated pop, couching wry observations in offhandedly catchy melodies. His songs stick around like old friends, their warmth, accessibility and unshowy intelligence always welcome, never overbearing. . . .
“Pedal steel wreathes the melancholy shuffle of the title track, while ‘Bank Job’ rambles through a Band-like daydream of American country rock. Lovely ‘California,’ masses the band’s voices in ghostly folk harmonies, and equally gorgeous ‘Boat Behind the Trees’ finds a transcendence in simplicity and natural imagery. ‘Work Blues,’ follows a spectral blues lick through shimmering mirages of piano.
“In ‘Drank Too Much Last Night,’ the album’s rough-riding, minor-key highlight, Uva starts the night with $5 and manages to make it last through a night that touches on love, friendship, and a love of music. . . . Uva scrounges borrowed bills and cadged drinks, as his guitar drives on and on, the song just about perfect in the way it celebrates small triumphs of creation and connection in a flawed world.
“Write about music long enough and you’ll develop a short lists of artists that should be better known, that, for whatever reason, have never made the impact that their skill, by rights, should entitle them to. Mike Uva is somewhere very close to the top of my list, and Lady, Tell Me Straight only confirms his position as one of the best songwriters you never heard of.” —Jennifer Kelly, blurt-online.com
Chicago Independent Radio Project (CHIRP) BEST OF 2012 :: “Mike Uva fuses elements of outlaw country and Americana with a warm pop sensibility, reminiscent of artists ranging from the Band to the Byrds to Damien Jurado. Supporting players The Bad Eyes add solid harmonies and fitting instrumentation, particularly in the subtle trumpet parts and piano work. . . . A real underappreciated gem.” —Shawn Campbell, chirpradio.org
“You know that scene in Heartworn Highways, when all those guys are sitting around at Christmas drinking and playing songs and having a good time? ‘Lady Tell Me Straight’ . . . is like the summer barbeque version of that scene. Wise and witty lyrics with the low-fi acoustic pop accompaniment. Mike recorded this with a handful of musicians, two microphones and an 8-track recorder. With songs this good you don’t need much else.” —Clocktower Nine
“A perfectly-sequenced slice of shrugged-off, (The) Band-style brilliance.” —Zapruder Point
for STATIC SONGS
“Cleveland’s best unknown songwriter strikes again.
(8 OUT OF 10) . . . Every couple of years, Cleveland songwriter Mike Uva tosses off an album of sublime jangle pop, tangled with wry, self-observant lyrics, melancholy chord progressions and encased in warmly lo-fi production values. . . . as catchy as Bob Pollard, as slyly subversive as Lou Barlow, as effortlessly melodic as Nick Salomon. . . . There are hooks everywhere you look here.” —PopMatters
“Mike mutters, croons, and casts his tunes with characters knowingly submitting to their nerves (‘Like Water You Press’) or their id (‘Flip Me Over’). Unlike so much of what I hear in the indie-rock game . . . Mike not only handles his words well, but understands the mechanics of classic tunesmanship.” —Ed Sotelo
“The strength in this release lies in the honesty and simplicity of its arrangements. . . . If you’re like me, and you get turned off by indie bands that throw more instruments into the mix in a vain attempt to make their music more “unique,” then you’ll certainly appreciate the way Mike Uva and Hook Boy easily shift from one sound to another within their limited pallette, not by using different instruments, but by playing the same set of instruments differently.” —I Rock Cleveland
(5+ OUT OF 6) “At times, Mike Uva’s tunes remind us of The Feelies, Richard Thompson, and Ray Davies . . . and that’s just the beginning. Instead of burying his songs in technology and too many overdubs, he presents them simply using only the bare essentials. . . . The more we spin this one, the better the songs sound. Love them gee-tars. Subtle smart pop tracks . . . Very satisfying.” —Babysue
“Graced by tambourines, electric piano and stunning lyrical narratives, Uva’s work seems to have found a balance between stripped-back instrumental grace, purposeful intention, and an intrepid flair for the quirky. . . . Grant-Lee Phillips once said that everyone needs a little sanctuary. Static Songs is exquisite . . . and just the ticket.” —Cool Cleveland
for WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN
“Dreamy folk from this virtual unknown but he gets help from pals playing accordion, tabla (?!), piano, loops and some stunning female vocals from Courtney Christenson. . . . Mike Uva has written one charming record here.” —Dagger Zine
“This is a lovely record. . . . A mostly acoustic-based, home recorded, one-man pop record, Where Have You Been luxuriates in its verdant, cozy, hushed textures and Uva’s detached but wry lyrics, whether thinking back on past loves (“Stuck in My Head”), trying, possibly successfully, to seduce new ones (“Protective Lotion”), or reflecting on recent adventures, like the Kinks/XTC/Joni Mitchell-like “English Garden.” Guest vocals from some kind of angel named Courtney Christenson help – don’t miss “Dinosaurs.” . . . Superb! The whole LP is superb.” —The Big Takeover
(PICK OF THE WEEK) “Where Have You Been is like the finest red wine: not too sweet, instantly affecting, enjoyed optimally through relaxed consumption, and it leaves an insatiable taste for more.” —Delusions of Adequacy
“An excellent singer-songwriter effort.” —Punk Planet
“An almost textbook example of jangly-pop perfection. . . . Where Have You Been exerts the lightest possible touch, brushing by with a slight breeze and leading you softly into a place for dreams. Summer afternoons remembered in winter, transient loves recollected in solitude, fragile melodies etched into hazy sounds — they’re all here in this oblique and lovely record.” —Splendid Magazine
“[Uva’s] lyrical imagery combines with truly inspired arrangements.” —largehearted boy
for HOOK BOY
“Hook Boy is a small gem. . . . There’s something of an Elvis Costello pacing to a couple of the songs here. . . . There’s also some thoroughly excellent guitar soloing in the background that has the definition of a knife piercing the skin of a peach—it’s good stuff, even more so considering the throwaway nature of the disc’s genesis.
The tunes here, despite their uniform shortness (the longest clocks in at a whopping four minutes) are all intriguing — character sketches and surreal observations filtered through a variety of styles. . . . “Shar (Rhymes W/Car)”, too, is one of the finest tributes to a beer-buying, secret-of-the-universe-holding friend that you’ll hear, replete with detuned guitar warblings and woopy videogame endings.
Uva’s little disc of almost-forgotten songs is worth seeking out because it’s a rarity—a compelling bunch of tunes that overcome minimal-budget births by dint of the strength of vision behind them. Compelling stuff, not least because it’s like finding scraps of a picture and trying to put together the whole—perhaps an impossible task, but one that offers subtle rewards.” –Splendid
“A catchy and hook-laden effort that does a good job of exploring various sounds and styles without dragging you too far into the outer reaches. . . . Hook Boy is an LP stacked with quirky but inviting humor and colorful observations of everyday life.
Working without a band, Uva weaves a surprisingly complex web of music, contrasting his warm acoustic foundations with swirling waves of effects-soaked electric guitars. His lazy, plainspoken vocals have a way of wrapping themselves around you and drawing you into a trance; one moment you are listening attentively and suddenly it’s 20 minutes later and you are staring blankly at the walls wondering where the time went. And while it is the clever interplay between the guitar and vocals that makes his music flow, Uva manages to inject plenty of texture and color by lacing these songs at various points with harmonica, bass, drums, keyboards, programmed beats, and tape effects. . . . There is a warm and welcome intimacy that resonates throughout the proceedings, a homespun honesty that is both comforting and compelling.” —Delusions of Adequacy