Regardless of our roads one inevitable fact is that we are shaped by our journey. This shaping is vividly evident in Mike Sanford’s latest offering, produced by the great Joe Hardy (ZZ Top, Steve Earle…), entitled Forgotten Country- Volume I. The album reads like a biography with story songs and imagery of Mike’s musical and personal journey on full display. He opens the album with the raucous and enlightening tune The Maker’s Hand, in which his son Marshal Tucker Sanford debuts his very own guitar prowess. It’s all about his personal journey of adversity, perseverance, faith, and the ultimate theme of leaving a legacy, wrapped in a visually metaphoric storybook package. The second tune on the album is titled Me & You, which turns the focus to Mike’s 22-year relationship with his wife. It highlights a clever play on words “when it was me and you, and you and me. Young and dumb and wild and free. All six of us riding hard into the night.” The song starts in the moment where many relationships find themselves after “life’s been pressing down pretty hard, between bills and babies, and broke down cars”. Then takes the listener to a reminder of how it used to be with the twist at the end of the chorus “once in a while I still see me and you, young and dumb, wild and free.” Third up on the album is Something New, literally. It’s a song about the over-burden of bad news in this world and how much of a need there is to hear something good, something new. Mike’s faith is on full display with this tune and his overall declaration that the Good News is the best news. This song displays Joe Hardy’s skills as a producer as well with Mike’s guitar and harmonica couples with Joes banjo, smoking electric guitar, and bass. Next on the list, Run, has been an early favorite. This story song about the wild abandonment of young love is a directly influenced by Mike and his wife’s story. “Jimmy said if you’re free tonight maybe you and me can blow this town” is a phrase indicative of the spirit of the tune. “Jimmy was wild as a mustang. He had but one speed that was to run. He climbed every mountain without a clue just to see if he could touch the sun” harkens back to the wild spirit of living life without fences, whether that be riding bareback broncs or chasing love despite how crazy the interpretation of the world around him. Run also flexes Joe Hardy’s slide guitar skills as well as his incredible gifting on bass and percussion. The last song in the collection is the tune Son of a King. Mike’s heart and faith pour out as he speaks of his failures and the freedom he has found in his faith in God. “I’m prone to wander prone to fall then I heard my savior call he said to me “son I’ve come to set you free. He gave up his throne to make a slave the son of a king” is intentionally the way he chose to end the collection of songs. It is evident that through the journey of this new album this theme is the hallmark of his purpose. “I’m very excited to share this album with the world. It’s very personal, and while it can be slightly frightening to put it out there, I love my story and can’t wait for the next chapter. I’m glad that the audience gets to join in on the fun.”