Photo by Laura King

Mike Reinstein

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

 

In this section:

CD: A Long March Home

Here are songs that speak to the mind as well as the heart. Songs about resilience, guilt and fear; about the aftermath of war, intolerance and the mad follies of our leaders. And love, of course, hard won but true.

Reviews

A singer/guitarist in the classic mould. Mike has been serving up crafted songs and finger-picking guitar for many years. His refined anti-war sentiments remain as relevant today as ever. Recommended.

Reviewed by Keith Ames in The Musician, The Journal of the Musician’s Union


The theme of war tends to weave its way through the dozen self-penned songs on Mike Reinstein's latest album A LONG MARCH HOME. This singer-songwriter's own personal family history is revealed in Gefehlt Mir Mein Heym, a phrase translated from the yiddish for 'I Love My Home', which tells of the flight from persecution that his own grandparents suffered during the Second World War, which was prompted by the recent harrowing events in Europe. In a similar vein to John Prine's Sam Stone, the song America Says investigates the aftermath of war. Despite its lilting feel, the song specifically focuses on how a veteran might face and deal with the emotional turmoil of his experience, questioning the role of the hero. Then more graphically, Warface tells it pretty much as it is; an angry song told in black and white addressing the complications arising from conflict. A Calling, further investigates the trauma of war, this time post-Bosnia, superbly enhanced by Tim Wade's haunting trombone that perfectly underpins Reinstein's empathetic vocal. These are powerful songs covering powerful themes. Throughout the dozen songs though, whether they concern the subject of war or whilst delivering a tender ballad such as It's Not Enough, or a love song A Watchman for Your Heart, Mike Reinstein's voice remains convincing throughout, an honest voice not dissimilar to that of Boo Hewerdine.

Allan Wilkinson Northern Sky Magazine


There are some record labels that just inspire confidence. Irregular is one such and so I seized hold of this album, Mike’s second, sight unseen. It doesn’t disappoint.

Mike Reinstein is a music teacher and veteran performer with a gift for song-writing, particularly lyrics that make you think and then listen and think again. The first track, ‘Cheap At Twice The Price’, is typical. It begins with pride in a new pair of shoes to the man who made the shoes for “a bowl of rice” and to the man who harvested the cotton for your cheap shirt – and mine, too.

There are some fine musicians supporting Mike, notably Mick O’Connor whose guitar breaks are expertly judged and the trumpet and trombone of Rob Heasman and Tim Wade. Matthew Bright plays flute and Mike’s wife, novelist Reina James, plays keyboards. The songs are at the heart of the record, though, and the band adds atmosphere and texture without intruding.

The second song, ‘America Says’, tells of a soldier coming home from one of the recent conflicts to a hero’s welcome, all the time concealing a nasty secret that is never actually revealed. It’s a very clever piece of writing. It’s paired with ‘Warface’, the story of a British lad who joined the army because there was no work. He comes home mentally scarred, watchful and paranoid. Later, ‘On Cable Street’ uses the famous battle as a warning to the fascists who are still with us and that is matched by ‘Gefehlt Mir Mein Heym (I Love My Home)’ which tells of people who keep a suitcase in the hall, just in case.

It’s not all serious: ‘A Watchman For Your Heart’ is that rare beast, a funny love song, while ‘Advice’ imagines God giving Bush and Blair the benefit of his wisdom in answer to their prayers – all to the backing of lounge-jazz piano. Inspired. This is music with heart, wit and imagination – exactly what I hoped for and expected.

Dai Jeffries Folking.com


There’s an assured attraction to music and songs from Mike Reinstein, they come with a magnetism that’s built around alluring melodies strewn with beguiling hooks and percptive lyrics with a perspicacity that could punch a hole through sheet steel. His album ‘A Long March Home’ is a collection of songs that carry their messages with power, vision and appeal – its pathos shattering, resentment intense and examinations revealing. Reinstein’s lyrics create images, evoke places and build characters, and his softly piercing vocals brings them unerringly to life.

Whether he’s reflecting deep seated understanding through ‘Cheap At Twice The Price’, exposing the darkness of ‘Warface’ or the melancholy behind ‘It’s Not Enough’, Reinstein employs a brutal frankness to make his point, and it’s that forthrightness that makes this album utterly absorbing. There’s harsh reality brought home through straight-talking narrative in ‘Iris’ and ‘A Calling’, by contrast the gentle calm and soft surrender of ‘Love Carries Us Through’ reflects on experience before sorrowful resentment within ‘Your Help’s Long Overdue’ cuts deep once again. And to make its point with power and purpose there’s ‘A Watchman For Your Heart’ – a truly beautiful song.

Tim Carroll FolkWords 4.5.15

 


An intelligent singer-songwriter with a rather better-than-average command of fingerstyle guitar, Mike's one of those long-standing and valued live performers who's unlikely to disappoint on disc, for his thoughtful and considered approach to songwriting extends to the recording process too, as you can hear from his second album for the Irregular label.

His first album was aptly titled More To be Revealed, for it certainly hinted at greater depths in his writing, with a promise that's fulfilled in good measure on album number two, A Long March Home, whose songs engage the inner mind as well as all the "usual" (surface) emotions. Throughout the disc, Mike displays ingenuity in his musical settings, surrounding himself with talented musicians who may not be "big names" but who clearly respond to the lyrics rather than just turning up and doing the job (check out the trombone part on A Calling, or the weaving cello and flute lines on Iris, for instance).

You can't fault Mike's choice of time-honoured topics either - life philosophy, the paths and perils of true love, intolerance and prejudice, guilt and fear, the aftermath of war. The war-themed songs tend to be standouts, with Warface and On Cable Street especially memorable, while the lilting portrait of Iris is another very strong track. Other highlights include Mike's touching memoir of his grandparents (Gefehlt Mir Mein Heym), the tender Love Carries Us Through, the simple, plaintive Your Help's Long Overdue, and the disarming honesty of A Watchman For Your Heart.

David Kidman. FATEA magazine

 


There are very many singer-songwriters whose themes focus on social protest or love, unrequited or otherwise, and some produce the odd good song. Mike Reinstein, from Sussex, is one of the few able to sustain the appeal across a whole album, with both topics well represented.

This is the third of his albums I have reviewed, the previous one being of songs for children. For the variety of  attractive tunes and arrangements, good lyrics and, not least, his superb singing, A Long March Home is certainly his best CD so far.

Some songs stood out immediately on first hearing while I was pottering around doing other things. Cheap At Twice The Price, the opening track, reflects on our consumer society where bargains often come at the expense of exploited workers in the third world. Gefehlt Mir Mein Heym (I Love My Home)  and Your Help’s Long Overdue are very poignant and moving. The latter is probably my favourite track.

Further playings, giving more attention to the lyrics, reveal some absolute gems. In fact I can honestly say there’s not a dud offering amongst them – and that’s from someone for whom this genre is not one with which I feel most comfortable. The  black humour and irony of Advice is brilliant  - a dialogue between God and warmongering world leaders – and the piano accompaniment is inspired.

Full marks too for the instrumental backing on all of the songs. Brass, keyboard, percussion, bass and  guitar, supplemented by other instruments, all contribute very effectively to the overall presentation.

I’d be very tempted to go to a live performance by Mike. Perhaps when I’m next in the Brighton area…

Colin Andrews What's Afoot - the folk magazine for Devon.


Almost four years ago to the day, I reviewed Mike’s belated debut album, More To Be Revealed - and was bowled over. The songs kept my interest throughout and I was struck by their wit, variety and musicality.

Using eleven other musicians instead of just three, this could have sounded over-produced - but it doesn’t. And continuing to write on troubling social issues, the effects of war, globalisation and man’s inhumanity could have sounded hackneyed - but it isn’t.

The songs are still enigmatic at times, such as the very melodic ‘America Says’ and ‘It’s Not Enough’. Mike offers no explanations. However, you cannot mistake the meaning of ‘Cheap At Twice The Price’ about low wage economies serving western consumers: and the lasting effects on those who serve in wars, in ‘Warface’ and 'A Calling’. Mike reserves his most stinging and direct criticism for Bush and Blair in the brilliant, ‘Advice’ - admittedly with the benefit of hindsight - in which they ask God’s opinion on going to war, then totally ignore it.

For me, the most beautiful song is ‘Your Help's Long Overdue'. A prayer from someone struggling to make ends meet - and to keep his faith. It is written very colloquially, played very simply and brought a lump to my throat.

Mike Blair Shire Folk Magazine. July 2015

Singer-songwriter’s second collection, tackling, with plain spoken honesty and an intelligent approach to accompaniments, aspects of love, life and intolerance. Viewed through the experiences of history and memory, though with a refreshing absence of sentimentality that in itself is rather touching.

Mike sings beautifully, roughly inhabiting the same territory as Roy Bailey and Leon Rosselson , plays acoustic guitar and banjo and is joined by a whole raft of accomplished musicians and singers - special mention for Wayne McConnell's jazz piano on the hilarious closer Advice (an imagined conversation between Bush, Blair and the Almighty). Well worth a listen or three.

fRoots Magazine August 2015

There is a creditable earnestness in Mike Reinstein's songs. The singer's commitment to the song and to the cause is never in doubt. There are manifold textures across A Long March Home...On each track the delivery is impeccable and the arrangements are perfect.

Trevor Raggatt. R2 Magazine September 2015

Stirrings Magazine Review. March 2016

Twelve tracks all written by Mike: a mixture of protest, love songs and a bit of personal history. The melodies are good, all the way from simple to sophisticated and the lyrics likewise. The arrangements are workmanlike and do just enough to set a mood without distracting you from the subject in hand unless, as with America Says (hail the conquering hero?) the whole point is to get you feeling so relaxed that the single killer phrase leaves you gob smacked.

Mike sings beautifully, roughly inhabiting the same territory as Roy Bailey and Leon Rosselson , plays acoustic guitar and banjo and is joined by a whole raft of accomplished musicians and singers - special mention for Wayne McConnell's jazz piano on the hilarious closer Advice (an imagined conversation between Bush, Blair and the Almighty). Well worth a listen or three.

Ian Spafford

Stirrings Magazine. March 2016

Track Listing

 Long March Home

(All songs by Mike Reinstein)

Musicians

Mike Reinstein – lead vocals/ acoustic guitar, banjo
Lee Humber – drums, shakers
Mick O’Connor – Acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin
Ali Gavan – bass.
Reina James Reinstein – keyboards.
Mark Wilson – double bass on ‘It’s Not Enough’
Wayne McConnell – piano on ‘Advice’
John Sandford – accordion
Matthew Bright – flute
Emma Bright – cello
Tim Wade – trombone
Rob Heasman – trumpet
Mike, Reina and Ali – backing vocals

Engineered by Ali Gavan at Transmission Studios, West Sussex 2015.

Buy Long March Home £10 plus £1.50p postage and packing in the UK
UK delivery: £10+ £1.50 p&p
Europe: £10+ £2.70 p&p
Rest Of The World: £10+ £3.40 p&p

Delivery Destination

Back to top