Michael Heart has no propensity for nonsense. Neither in his life nor in his music. His no-frills approach to songwriting and production work is a clear testament to that. Despite his vastly diverse musicianship skills in different genres (clearly a direct result of having been raised all over the world), he has an affinity for authenticity and purity when it comes to his music. When he makes a Pop/Rock record, you just know it’s a Pop/Rock record.
Such is the case with his just released, debut Pop/Rock CD titled “Unsolicited Material”. Although this record may not necessarily entirely sound like the work of his musical influences, you can definitely hear traces of artists such as Don Henley, Bryan Adams and possibly even a hint of Daughtry, in a song or two. His raspy, breathy voice has a very identifiable sound, which commands attention from the listener. The songs are well crafted and the lyrical content is somewhat diverse, yet relevant. He tackles serious topics such as adultery (“Living In Sin”); the challenges of making a living (“Life Goes On”); war (“Damaged World”) and even domestic violence (“Finally Free”). Having said that, once in a while, Michael still lets his sense of humor come out in a song like “Wanna Be Bad”. After all, rock’n roll is about having a good time. And just for good measure, he includes the obligatory, radio-friendly, mid-tempo, Pop/Rock love song, “Lost In You”. Although the moods of the various songs on this CD do vary, there is still a common thread in all of these songs that unify them as a collective work.
Michael’s background is as diverse as can be. Born in Syria and raised in Europe (Switzerland and Austria), the Middle East and the United States, he has lived a multi-cultural life and absorbed the music of different parts of the world (although his current CD release is purely categorized as Pop/Rock). He started out on piano and guitar at age 10. Shortly thereafter, he began dabbling in songwriting and eventually made the natural progression towards recording. After earning his audio engineering degree from Full Sail (recording school), he moved to Los Angeles in 1990 and spent the past 18 years working on the local studio circuit both as a session guitarist and a recording engineer. In that time, he has worked with such artists as Brandy, Will Smith, Toto, Natalie Cole, The Temptations, Phil Collins, Patty LaBelle, The Pointer Sisters, Earth Wind & Fire, Ricky Lee Jones, Lou Rawls, Jesse McCartney, Hillary Duff, Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Paige, Al Jarreau, K-Ci & Jojo, Deborah Cox, Monica, Taylor Dayne, Keiko Matsui, Steve Nieves, Luis Miguel and Tarkan. Michael’s fluency in French was definitely an added bonus when he also worked in the studio with French artists like Calogero (The Charts), Marc Lavoine and Veronique Sanson. Other projects also included work with producers Rodney Jerkins, Philippe Saisse and David Foster. (note: on most of these recording credits, Michael is credited as “Annas Allaf”, his real name, Michael Heart being the stage name). Although most of Michael’s work has been in the recording studio, he has also done some touring (notably back in the early 90’s, when he toured as a Flamenco guitarist in a guitar trio with Juan Manuel Canizares, opening for Dire Straits). He has also recorded and toured with the smooth jazz band Jango.