Six On The Out
Pauper Sky Music
The Real Sound of Downtown Americana.
Who are the Westies and why should you love them? A simple question; but with a very complicated answer.
The constituent parts are husband and wife Michael McDermott and Heather Horton; but in reality The Westies are everybody on the sidelines and in the shadows of every run down city and town across North America and beyond; as McDermott’s stories rival Blue Collar spokesmen like Bruce, Steve and Neil for grit and honesty; and will stir emotions across the globe ; as our various economies take more swings than an amateur golfer.
My ears instantly pricked the first time I heard opening song If I Had a Gun; as it sounded uncannily like Mark Knopfler from the Dire Straights; but when I pressed repeat the lyrics were a damn sight darker and edgier than anything the amiable ex-Geordie has ever recorded.
The song that spawned the name for the couple’s record label, Paupers Sky follows, and while it’s got a danceable beat to it; it’s another song that needs to be listened to over and over again, to get the whole message; then you will want to micro chip it into every politicians forehead; so they can slowly begin to understand what the Working Classes and even Middle Classes are going through these days.
Some of the songs here are breathtaking in the way McDermott strings his words together; try The Gang’s All Here. A melancholy Irish lament that masks a bittersweet love song; that will bring a tear to a glass eye; well it made mine mist up.
Ha……The Westies can even do subtle!
I’d heard the song Henry McCarty several times; and was slowly falling in love with it; and then the ‘penny dropped’ – it’s actually the story of Billy The Kid; told in just under seven minutes; and is as a fine a song as Tom Russell never wrote…..which is as big a compliment as I can give!
Santa Fe, which follows is a straight up Americana Rocker that owes a tip of the hat to Bruce’s The River; but no more than that as it really; really showcases The Westies ‘sound’ in all it’s magnificent glory. That sound definately revolves around McDermott’s proudly expressive voice and words; but let’s not forget Heather Horton’s magnificent violin playing (soft and gentle when necessary but raucous too when called upon) plus her harmonies verge on the Angelic on a couple of tunes.
While every song here is pure Westies; they manage to seamlessly glide between out and out Rockers, intimate love songs, tales of woe and in the case of Once Upon a Time a ‘confessional’ that would easily have made its way onto any of Johnny Cash’s American Man series of albums.
Best song here? Phew; that really is difficult but I will try to choose between the softly atmospheric tale Sirens, which closes the album or the passionate acoustic-rocker Everything Is All I Want For You; which probably shades it (today).
According to the Press Release McDermott claims to be ‘two years clean and sober’ which may be why I’ve never heard of him or The Westies before……but that my friends is why you should tell your children don’t do drink and drugs; because in this case it most certainly stifled a great talent and if Heather can keep him on the straight and narrow heralds the dawning of a new talent.
Released June 3rd 2016