Mike Thompson
Falling Out of Love

If singer/songwriter Mike Thompson straddled several genres in his early days, he’s totally gone country with his new full-length collection Falling Out of Love. Thompson’s previous collection, Anytime, Anywhere, came across like a low-budget demo with dim performances and a sense of hesitation, but Falling Out of Love is positively gleaming and confident.

Thompson is familiar to City Paper readers. He won several Best Male Vocalist readers’ pick awards a few years back. His country/rock quartet Sin County played regularly at local venues, winning Best House Band in 2007. After a tumultuous stint in Nashville, Thompson returned to the Lowcountry two years ago and began concentrating on his writing. The results comprise this new full-band collection, recorded with Carroll Brown and Jay Miley at Miley’s Charleston Recording Studio.

The title track is a morosely romantic, straight-ahead country strummer with big harmonies in the chorus. The next song, a flowing ballad in a brushy 2/4 rhythm titled “Isolene,” is the first of the collection to show off Thompson’s guest musicians. Andy Hall’s tasteful dobro floats over every verse and chorus and Patience Clements’ soft piano work is terrific. Jay Jackson’s steel guitar pushes “Tomorrow Morning” — one of the funniest, most radio-ready tracks here — to great heights.

Thompson mixes things up from there. “History to You” shuffles with a funky drum beat. The slow-dance ballad “Holding This Guitar” might as well be powered by the Peavey sound of 1977. “Easy as the Rain” resembles Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck doing “People Get Ready.” The dobro-driven “Tell Mama I Tried” is practically a sweet tribute to Merle Haggard.

Falling Out of Love is a fully realized, traditional-style country album, confident and assured. If Thompson keeps cranking out these tales of heartache and devotion while avoiding the production glaze of contemporary commercial country music, the roots/Americana crowd will surely take notice.