In late 2022, singer-songwriter-traveler Mike Mentz packed up his guitar and headed to central Mexico. That was it - that was the extent of the plan. "I flew to Mexico City. I had never been there before. I flew there to make something...I just had no idea what," Mike recollects.
What ensued was one of the most vibrant adventures of Mike's life, shaped by a story uncovered piece by piece over two months and thousands of miles throughout central Mexico. In the artist's own words, "A story that I couldn't have told without diving into the unknown to uncover ... a story that FOUND ME." Musically, the creative adventure resulted in Mike's forthcoming album, Into The Dark, which consists of seven cover songs, each chosen while in transit to tell a single story, along with 14 accompanying music videos, filmed on location along the journey.
Leading up the the November launch of Into The Dark, three of its cover songs have now seen the light of day in both audio and video realizations: "I'll Follow the Sun" (The Beatles), "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (U2), and "Dancing In The Dark" (Bruce Springsteen). Every of these covers is absolutely stunning. With respect to doing an album of cover songs, Mike remarks, "Now, it might be tempting to view an album of seven covers as a quick, passing pitstop of an idea for someone who usually writes his own tunes. But to the absolute contrary, to me this record is one of the most personal, vulnerable, meaningful things I've ever made."
"I'll Follow the Sun" and "Dancing In The Dark" are spacious and breezy acoustic interpretations of these two iconic classics. The perfect accompaniment to a calm, summer evening, the less-is-more acoustic production on each of these songs gives center stage to Mike's warm, expressive vocals that ever-so-gently and melodically bring them to life.
All the stunning music videos and trailers for Into The Dark were filmed across central Mexico and were directed by Los Angeles-based Mauricio H Blanca (MHBLA).
My favorite of the three singles is Mike's cover of U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." This track spotlights the powerful and dynamic range of Mike's vocals, as experienced in the song's anthemic and breathtaking high. The additional production and bits of electronic embellishment, along with Mike's soaring vocals at the final chorus, all work to elevate this impressive cover to astounding heights.
In the bigger scheme of things for Mike Mentz, Into The Dark is more than just his new album. Followers of the artist already know that the music and videos for Into The Dark represent Roads 3+4 in the climb of Mike's artistic Mount Everest that he calls 21 ROADS. "Perspective is priceless. Travel opens your eyes. When you watch the sun rise from somewhere new, your world gets a little bit bigger. I love that," Mike explains. "I'm currently climbing a creative Everest of my own design called 21 ROADS: 21 major artistic works (with 124 component pieces) in less than 5 years." Crowdfunded by fans and supporters, Mike's recent live album, Live in Floyds Knob, and its accompanying video series represented the first two roads in the 21 ROADS journey.
If you like what you hear and see, follow Mike for the remainder of the Into The Dark audio and visual journey - your ears, eyes and senses will be delighted. And if you're interested in accompanying Mike down the remaing roads of his journey, consider supporting the 21 ROADS project and Mike's Patreon artist channel where you get early access and insights into Mike's thoughts and plans, WIP songs, emails and lots of other fun engagement.