Mike Roos painstakingly recorded "Begin 2," a heartfelt collection of 13 songs, over a five-year period, 2006-2011, in his personal studio. It's his third collection of songs, but the first since 'Songs From the Flood Wall' 20 years ago. 2011, in fact, marks the 25th anniversary of his first collection of songs, "Kangaroo," released in 1986. Over that period, Mike Roos has continued to teach writing and literature at a midwestern university, yet somehow found the time to complete two book manuscripts (with another in progress) and about 50 new songs. 'Begin 2' is distinctly different from his previous collections and marks a step forward in music, production, and performance. In an impassioned acoustic roots style (featuring guitar, banjo, mandolin, harmonica, and dobro), Mike touches on a variety of painful contemporary subjects in these songs, including the Virginia Tech massacre ('Blacksburg'), Hurricane Katrina ('New Orleans'), aging ("When He Was Young" and "Whisky Kid"), George W. Bush ("Jesus Forgot"), and war ("Holy Slow Train"), but most of the songs explore spiritual and philosophical matters, like "Plato's Slave Boy," the wry "I Like the Buddha," "Little Blue Ball," "Christmas in the Islands," "Still Flowing Water," and "The Ballad of Gregory Gregory." The album concludes with the intimate lullaby "Asian Princess." It's an album that's not afraid to peer into the dark mysteries, life's sorrows and pains, but in the end, with a sense of humor and a warm heart, it offers a healthy measure of hope: there's goodness out there if you know where to look.