It's been four years since I discovered the music of singer-songwriter-traveler Mike Mentz at a sold-out Sofar Sounds performance in an apartment on Chicago's near north side in July. At the time, Mike had already completed the recordings for his forthcoming IMA-nominated Souvenir album release, had just participated in a national songwriting competition, and was traveling the world, gathering inspiration and perspective from every stop along his travels to create music that he calls #travelpop. On that July evening, Mike commanded the room with his captivating one-man, acoustic performance with which the audience clearly connected and enjoyed.
After taking a breather from releasing content over the past few years, Mike announced a musical reboot in February 2020 with a series of new singles leading up to the official release of Souvenir. First out of the release gate was the energized, upbeat "Someday," followed by album title track "Souvenir," and the relaxed, reflective "Play Clothes."
This past week saw the release of fourth single "Ain't That the Life," a track that I'll boldly declare as my all-time favorite Mike Mentz song. "Ain't That the Life" has 'hit single' written all over it. The song's carefree, acoustic guitar intro sets the stage of a lazy, outdoor summer afternoon. Mike's powerful, emotive vocals lead the listener through the story of "Ain't That the Life," before launching into the track's upbeat and ultra-infectious chorus, complete with a bit of hand-clapping and banjo to drive it home. This is a song and melody that'll stick with you long after you hear it.
Four years in the making, "Ain't That the Life" was inspired by a chance moment and a sun-drenched, lazy river landscape - the musical intersection where a guitar riff and imagination gave birth to a song. "It started with a guitar riff in Nashville, which kicked off three years of lyrical false starts," Mike comments on social media. "I knew from the beginning that it was a special tune, but every time I tried pairing an idea to the guitar, it beat me up. Every single lyric I wrote felt wrong until one day... I crossed a bridge."
Mike describes the drive along which "Ain't That the Life" came together. "I was driving by myself on a back road in Kentucky, and the sun was shining. I pulled the car over. I made my way out to the middle and stood over this lazy river winding through the trees. I imagined what it would be like to be a kid growing up here watching the river float by and wondering where out into the world it could take me." He continues, "And then it came to me. This place WAS the guitar riff. And that kid I imagined being was where the story would start. I wrote a single line - not a lyric, just a statement: 'Youth wants adventure.'" By the time Mike arrived in Nashville, the blueprint of the song was already etched in his head, he jotted down notes, and the song was alive.
If you like what you hear and want to get in on early and exclusive access to Mike's music, consider becoming a patron of Mike's music and adventures on Patreon, where tiers of membership are a play on the #travelpop concept and have clever travel-themed names like Window Seat, First Class Lounge, Mile High Club, and Cockpit Cocktails, among others.
Keep an eye out for additional single and music video releases from Mike Mentz in the coming months, along with the official release of his Souvenir album later during 2020. For more information about Mike Mentz, visit his official website, follow him on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Patreon) and find his music on Spotify, SoundCloud, Apple Music and other streaming services.