Acts of Love is the third album from Mike Reinstein for Irregular Records, and sees a bit of a departure for him musically. While you still get his characteristic brand of intelligent folk, he's introduced more of a Jazz-flavour here and there, most noticeably on the title track. The art of storytelling is still front and centre however, honed through writing and performing since the 1970s, though his path has also taken him through jobs delivering false teeth, cold-calling sales roles, and a dramatherapist working on acute psychiatric wards.
The opening track sets the tone perfectly for what follows. 24/7 Care is an up-beat track about families caring for loved ones, and being forced to do so by the inaction of the government. Lyrically there is a playfulness on display, as indeed there is on so many of his songs, with the musical accompaniment designed to highlight the message. Of course having written so many songs for children over the years (The Tommy Tomato Songbook and The Blewdle are well worth checking out), it's no surprise to see him having fun with the lyrics, and his love of language shines throughout the album.
The album is well named, with a lot of love laced through the tracks. The Gardner of Aleppo is the story a thirteen year old Syrian boy grieving for his lost father, simply sung but wonderfully haunting. There is a tribute to Billie Holiday from Peggy Lee, Samuel Beckett taking Andre The Giant to school, and the alarming narcissism of Donald Trump. Seaford Song is a sepia-tinted song full of nostalgia, which also throws out some familiar names.
A Mike Reinstein album is always worth a listen, and Acts of Love is no different. Wonderfully written and performed with real love, you can feel the warmth pour out from every note. Every story is captivating, and his lyrics display a deft touch and a sense of fun, while retaining a shrewd insightfulness that while make you think. Warm and full of heart, Acts of Love is a lovely album, and one you'll return to again and again.
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