MICHAEL McDERMOTT – Out From Under (Pauper Sky Records 2018)

Out From UnderI’ve been bewitched by the music of Michael McDermott for a few years now, I’m late to the party I know, as the Chicago based singer-songwriter has been a shining musical light over us for over 25 years now and is in fact celebrating his Eleventh Solo album with the release of Out From Under.

“I’ve always been drawn to people. Maybe not so much the people per se as the actions of people. People under fire, people that are at the end of their rope. People in the dark night of the soul. People that have gambled everything for a moment of glory. Those are the people and stories I’ve always been drawn to. Its not for the faint of heart, but I can only hope it strikes a chord in you, a chord that connects us all as citizens of this world, brothers and sisters in humanity. For we all are one, a simple but often forgotten fact”. Michael McDermott

If you have not come across McDermott before, you may know him as the male part of the husband and wide duo, the Westies with Heather Horton.

Comparisons have been drawn over the years to Springsteen and there is a touch of Jon Bon Jovi in the vocals but its the depth of the story songs that will get you. Author Stephen King, who is known to quote a rock lyric or two in his novels, wrote,

“Michael’s music, like Springsteen’s and Van Morrison’s helped me to find a part of myself that wasn’t lost, as I had feared, but only misplaced. That’s why we love the ones who are really good at it, I think: because they give us back ourselves, all dusted and shined up, and they do it with a smile…”.

The latest album, Out From Under is a fine example of all of the above. The creepy opening track, ‘Cal-Sag Road’ plays out like a modern day storyboard sequel to the killer in Riders on the Storm. ‘Gotta Go To Work’ delivers an old-timey laid back approach to life, where you left wondering if the character depicted in the song actually managed to get out of bed on that day, or a least make it together with his straw hat to the porch. Just have a read of this wordplay in the next track ‘Knocked Down’ and then imagine funky bass, fuzzy guitar/dobro lick and a track that really rocks!

I got this old guitar
An Irish hat
Spent 20 years baby
With a monkey on my back
That was hard time
Even harder still
If the left one don’t get you
Then the right one will
I’ve been hustled and muscled
Left for dead
Had my face to the wall
And a gun to my head
I’ve been cheated, defeated
Played for a fool
Everything I ever needed
Always came from you
I think its time we order, another round
I know a thing or two about being knocked down”.

We then get the upbeat, ‘Sad Songs’, which chugs along at a right old pace. What a great idea to write a song about being tired of singing all those sad songs.

This is then followed by a sad song called ‘This World Will Break Your Heart’. Its Chapin-esque in places and its sentiment reminded me a little of ‘Streets Of London’.

I’m conscious that this homage to a truly great album will become too unwieldy if I provide further track analysis, plus… I would also like to leave some surprises if you decide to buy/ download it.

I’ll finish off by saying that it is a remarkable collection and its the kind of album, that you will come back to time and time again and find something new in it. Case in point is the 10th track on the album ‘Sideways’ and the line; “I came across a beggar who asked me for social change”.

Darren Beech

Artist website: https://www.michael-mcdermott.com/

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Now you can see if your imagination has lived up to the expectation as we feature the ‘Knocked Down’ video below!