You would be hard pressed to find an artist who lives their music more than Mike Tod. Most folk artists / singer songwriters have a great love for the romantic ideals and imagery their songs provoke, but it is a lot rarer to find one that actually lives and breathes those ideals; that actually sees the imagery with their eyes and not their imagination.
Mike Tod calls a camper van his home. He hosts a radio show called 'The Pioneers Handbook'. He wears a really cool hat. And his latest album (out on the new and brilliant Cabin Songs label) is full of songs that were written and sung as he travelled around northern California. These are songs about a wanderers life, sung by a wanderer of life (and recorded live on tape, in one day). So if you are wondering why the album sounds so raw and honset, it's because it is exactly that.
It often feels like the modern world is the kind of place where a Townes Van Zandt could never exist, so Mike Tod is a bit of a revelation. Now, I'm not saying he is ‘the next Townes van Zandt’ (I don't think it is fair to say anyone is the next anyone). But I will say that Mike is musically way older than his 23 years on earth should have provided, and listening to this album keeps finding my mind going back to the heart warming Townes Van Zandt documentary 'Be Here To Love Me'. That documentary is great for a lot of reasons (this clip especially), but one of the biggest take aways from it was how becoming a truly amazing songwriter requires one to live their music. And I get the same vibe from Mike Tod.
As someone who has never had the cajones to actually hit the road with nothing more than a guitar and a borrowed pack of cigarettes, I do relish in the moments of “screw everything that is wrong with the modern world, me and my lady are going to go live off the land” that experiencing this way of life through someone else's eyes creates in me. Those moments may be brief, but I feel like they will eventually accumulate into something that overpowers all those other internal voices that persuade me from pursuing a life more simple (with their “what about an internet connection? What about the flavoured lattes?” arguments). And Mike Tod's music + story provides a strong counter argument.
So, if some day down the line, you ever find me working the land in a really ace hat, don't be surprised to hear The California Recordings playing in the background (provided I still have electricity).