“Cold Day in Hell” is the latest single from Midwestern based singer/songwriter and musician Michael Shynes. Personal loss spurred Shynes’ turn towards a musical career, but it’s clear from this single alone that this is a path he should have always followed. His talents as a songwriter are considerable and obviously growing, but his vocal abilities already occupy a lofty position indie music will simply never be able to contain. His voice is, in all seriousness, transcendent. It’s the sort of vocal capable of taking an already fine, solid song and raising it several notches above its basic merits until it reaches a truly inspired peak. Shynes clearly accompanies every word of his lyric with the greatest of care and invests both the musical and lyrical narrative with a level of emotiveness that few of his peers or contemporaries can readily match.
“Cold Day in Hell” has a bit of a retro sound musically, but the modern polish applied to the recording prevents anyone from claiming that it doesn’t sound fresh and vibrant. Te bulk of its retro inclinations is manifested by the crackling organ playing underpinning much of the melodic content, but it also has a invigorating live sound suggested by the recording that immediately connects with listeners. There’s no preamble or pretense with this song. It comes out of the gate swinging with just the right amount of energy and takes on a confident, assertive air from the first without ever seeming unduly strident. There’s the standard array of instruments in this song, drums, a generous amount of guitar that never threatens to overtake the performance, strong rhythm section work in general, and the aforementioned organ. The thing that really makes this track hum right a long, however, is the playful and memorable melody that Shynes brings to bear on this performance.
His voice brings a mighty glow to the song as well. Shynes is the sort of singer who owns a track, through and through, with only a couple of lines. His phrasing brings home the song’s emotional truths while avoiding any of the customary heavy-handed application of pop song tropes we might be subjected to by a much lesser singer. The song’s lyrical content is sharply worded and as focused as the music, but Shynes’ vocal talents elevate it several notches above the good and make it greater than what you’d possibly imagine merely reading the words from a sheet or screen. He knows how to modulate his voice rather effectively as well. It’s all of the aforementioned factors that go into making “Cold Day in Hell” one of the more memorable efforts in a singer/songwriter vein for this year. Michael Shynes is a impressive and fully formed talent who will, undoubtedly, continue evolving and growing in a compelling fashion. We are privileged to witness his ascent and, if he continues writing and recording songs this good, his skyward climb will be swift.