01 Jan / JOHN BATDORF & Michael McLean – SOUNDTRAX 2 RECOVERY CD Review By Danny McCloskey, Alternate Root Magazine 2014
Somewhere back in time, John Batdorf made a decision to sing songs that make us feel a little better about ourselves and our lives. As John points out in “Ain’t Dead Yet “, the opener for his recent release Soundtrax 2 Recovery, his words are as much for himself as for the listener; “I am part of this crew, I’m in this boat with you”. Soundtrax 2 Recovery is a collection of songs written by John Batdorf and Michael McLean. The album is powerful in its presence, strong in its beliefs that words and music can make a difference. The project started out with a working title of 12 Songs for 12 Steps. When the track numbers finally added up to a count of 17, it opened its arms to be more inclusive by dubbing the effort Soundtrax 2 Recovery. Michael McLean sees the benefits in these songs for the options that they offer. Michael states that “for many recovering addicts, it’s in rehab where they discover there are often musical triggers in their abuse (the songs associated with using), and they have to learn how to avoid those triggers that are essentially the soundtrack to their addiction. John and I are just songwriters with a passion to let the power of music help people trying to change. We’ve been wearing out our lives for the last forty years as professional songwriters hoping to make a difference. Although we understand we’re not the only guys who have songs that could help, we want to get the ball rolling.”
John Batdorf has a voice like the one we all wanted to hear as children– confident enough to get our attention and loving enough that is does not raise up our walls. John is one half of a couple wondering “how the hell we wound up here”, admitting that the madness is in doing the same thing and expecting different results (“Won’t Go Down That Road Again”). He is the proud owner of multiple days of not doing the substances that he thought could never stop (“If You Could See Me Now”), the soul hanging on to a small light of hope (“Heaven Help Me”) and one who gets up and decides that today is the day that everything changes (“I Will Not Be Afraid”). It was one of the tunes on Soundtrax 2 Recoverythat was the catalyst for the project and validated John Batdorf’s belief in the power of song by seeing the capacity of music to illicit change in his own son. For John, the past and the present collide in the song “I Don’t Always Win”. “I left home without parents at age 15 from Beavercreek, Ohio, and basically raised myself. I learned much about life listening to records from the great artists and songwriters of that era. So in 2005, out of desperation, I decided to try a similar approach with my son. Michael McLean was living in Malibu at the time and I told him that my son was struggling and that I wanted to try another way to reach out to him, so we wrote and recorded the song “I Don’t Always Win”. Without saying anything, I played that song for my son in the car and there was an immediate connection made. He knew that I knew it was going to be a battle and that one brief moment was one of the many things that helped lead him to the road to recovery he is now enjoying. As with me when I was young, a song spoke to him.” Soundtrax 2 Recoveryis a audio reminder that you are not alone. It is supportive without being demanding. The album witnesses without judging your life; you can lead a horse to water but not make it drink. John Batdorf and Michael McLean don’t force sobriety down your throat, but they do let you know just how damn good recovery tastes.