Michael McDermott – St. Paul’s Boulevard
Chicago-based Michael McDermott has a lightweight well-focused concept LP here. He focuses on lost & found people, rich, poor, young & old who struggle to survive & experience heartbreak & shame while trying to find their place in the world. Subjects that are just part of life. Not so much inherent issues that challenge only a few.
Everyone through their lives is challenged – mentally, physically & financially. Finding peace within one’s life is a lifelong search. Today, tomorrow & all who lived so many yesterdays ago.
McDermott’s a sound writer who addresses adeptly social & emotional disputes within our souls. He’s produced many fine LPs in his career & with critical acclaim. That must be worth something. I’m still listening so he must be doing something right.
Produced by Michael (guitars/vocals/piano) & Steven Gillis (drums) the 15-cut St. Paul’s Boulevard (Drops May 20–Pauper Sky Records) explores personal songs that are universal & parallel the frustrations of many people who haven’t reached their lofty peaks yet. But they’ve not shattered hopes – just postponed.
Ask yourself, what if Sun Records secretary Marion Keisker didn’t recommend Elvis Presley to Sam Phillips? How close did Bruce Springsteen’s career go up in smoke because writers said he was the “new” Dylan? Kiss of death. My concern with this music is that the general audience today is all about rap, hip-hop, showboating, smoke machines, dance steps & bombastic performances. Serious artists can only get up so many rungs on the ladder. Then must be satisfied they’re on the ladder at all.
McDermott isn’t a song & dance man. He’s a serious artist. Not necessarily a folk singer either. He’s about as important, pertinent & reinforcing as James Taylor, Cat Stevens (Yusef Islam), Peter Himmelman, & John Hiatt. There’s a Tin Pan Alley quality, with intense songwriter delicacy that isn’t mainstream pop music. “Pack the Car,” though — is an ass-kicking beauty of a rocker.
“All That We Have Lost,” has Bruce Springsteen weight. Excellent. “Sick of This Town,” is engaging. Michael’s blessed with a unique voice – similar to James Maddock. “The Arsonist,” & “Meet Me Halfway,” treads into Maddock territory (“My Old Neighborhood”) & does so with expertise. “Paris,” is lovely — like Peter Sarstedt’s 1969 poetic classic “Where Do You Go To My Lovely.” Mike writes similar compelling lyrics & music that appeals to a core dedicated audience that listens.
No one’s going to say it doesn’t rock enough, or his ballads are syrupy. The loyal fan follows – they have to believe the artist & his journey. Michael McDermott – believe him.
His band: Matt Thompson (acoustic/electric bass), Grant Tye (guitars), Heather Lynne Horton (violin/vocals), Vijay Tellis-Nayak (piano/organ) with Will Kimbrough (guitars/banjos/mandolin), John Deaderick (piano/organ/keys), Danny Mitchell (piano/keys) & David Grissom (guitars).
Photo by Tony Piccirillo. The 64-minute CD is available @ https://michael-mcdermott.com/