Soft in tone and yet strong enough to support the weighty vocal of one Andy Michaels, the new single and music video for “Darling It Hurts,” one of the star tracks you can find on Michaels’ latest LP Incendiary Heart, is undeniably driven by its lush string melody, which is perhaps made all the more enrapturing by the well-defined master mix it is filtered through. As gentle as their reverberating vibrations are, there’s never a moment where they’re lost in the haze of a harmony Michaels can conjure up seemingly out of thin air, and although the other elements comprising the fabric of this single are just as endearing in their own unique way, it was this specific component that made me fall in love with “Darling It Hurts” right out of the gate.
Andy Michaels’ vocal is always the center of our attentions in this song, and throughout the whole of Incendiary Heart in general, but I think that in “Darling It Hurts,” his range is challenged more than it is in any other instance presented to us on the LP. He doesn’t hesitate to go after the biggest and most cathartic release that he can in the chorus, and while there’s no getting around just how powerful a force the instrumentation is behind him, I don’t think there are many singers who could have had the impact on this material that he immediately did upon recording it last year. The duet is certainly a fine addition to the structure of the harmony as well, but I don’t think it was designed to be the main focus here.
I love the production technique that Michaels employed when creating the mix for “Darling It Hurts,” particularly with regards to the vacuum effect on the instrumentation. We’re constantly being drawn closer to the embers warming this track’s most attractive elements – the strings, the vocals, the patient groove created by the verses themselves – and though there’s a case to be made that it would be just as emotional a song in a raw, straightforward format contrary to this one, I personally found this stylization to be more befitting for a sophomore LP from a up and coming creative mastermind. He’s flexing some muscle here, but avoiding the ugliness of arrogance altogether.
Incendiary Heart was a game-changing record for Andy Michaels, and as I see it, this is its most important cornerstone. “Darling It Hurts,” in both its single and music video forms, is a brilliantly emotive ballad that shows off everything that Michaels does well – his wonderful skills as a vocalist, instrumentalist and composer are on full display here, and while it’s not the first occasion on which he’s proven himself to be capable of running with the big boys in this industry, it’s certainly one of the more melodically soothing examples I’ve had the opportunity to review. I’ll be keeping my eyes and ears peeled for more from this artist in the future, and I would sincerely recommend that you do the same.