Critic’s Corner: Mike Isberto – The Last Train

Mike Isberto is one of those under-stated gems that seems to always be around but just below the radar. The acoustic soul artist has developed a fair following on Youtube and now has a few EPs under his belt. That’s what brings us to this review. Last week, Isberto released The Last Train, a 6 song project that aims to position Mike as a more polished and refined artist – stepping out from his DIY independent roots. Is this a train that you should catch? Let’s find out!

Being an EP, it’s important that Isberto’s latest offering is calculated and efficient, making the most of the shortened tracklist. In short, he needs to make every song count. For the most part, he does just that – avoiding “filler” content and instead, delivering a streamlined and enjoyable release.

If anything can be said, it’s that the album is consistent – which is, paradoxically, it’s greatest strength and flaw. The songs stick to the proven formula of mid-tempo, acoustic pop-soul; imagine the more radio friendly fare of John Mayer or perhaps a male Colbie Caillat. “Don’t Know How to Be Alone” stands out for containing just a touch of grit in the lyrics, helping add some texture to Isberto’s otherwise gentle, clean sound. On that note, the opening and closing numbers to the EP, “Favorite Song” and “Always Been a Dreamer” each seem to have just a touch more of emotional investment, boosting the level of authenticity.

Conversely, there’s little to complain about regarding the other few tracks, save for the fact that Mr. Isberto can come off slightly detached. The other minor qualm is that the featuring artists weren’t so much guest vocalists, but rather, they played the role of a supporting singer(s). Their contributions were relegated to backing up Mike, which isn’t inherently a bad thing, just a minor waste of potential for recording magic. The biggest example of this is the title song, “Last Train” where we can barely pick out Cathy Nguyen and Nessa Rica.

So where does this release stand? It’s a undoubtedly very solid listen, enjoyable from beginning to end. That being said, the EP format proved to be a wise choice, because Isberto’s latest material lends itself to the risk of blending together with such little differentiating the songs from one another. Mike knows this genre is his bread and butter and is undeniably more polished than ever. However, he could stand to capitalize more on his guest talent and maybe pour out his heart just a little more often in the future.

Must ListenFavorite Song; Don’t Know How to Be Alone; Always Been a Dreamer

a-Tunes Score: 8.5/10

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