Pauper Sky Records
Leftovers Perhaps, But Always Substantial and Never Second Rate.
When Michael Mcdermott sings “Misdeeds come with a pretty price to pay” in his song “Tell Tale Heart,” which leads off his latest album Orphans, you can tell he not only means it, he’s lived it. Sincerity is the toughest thing to pull off as a songwriter, especially since all songwriters are liars, distorters of the truth, and weavers of dream-stuff. (No matter what anyone says about country music being “three chords and the truth.”) You don’t have to tell the truth in a song, you just have to make your listeners believe that it’s true.
But hard as hell to successfully pull off. It helps if you have drive, and Michael McDermott is a true driven soul. He writes powerful songs, he’s not afraid to work hard to get his music out, he takes chances.
This album is in no way modern country, nor 21st century pop, but that’s a good thing. I don’t know if it was McDermott himself or his producer who decided to go for the retro 1980’s production sounds on this album but I’m loving it. Little touches like the Edge-like guitar on “Tell Tale Heart,” or the kick drum on “Meadowlark,” or the keyboards on “Black Tree, Blue Sky,” and the jangly picking throughout on several tunes give a solid ambience of that foregone pop era.
It’s been long enough, let the ’80s breathe again.
“Sometimes When it Rains in Memphis” and “Givin’ up the Ghost” as well as “Tell Tale Heart” all manage to transcend their obvious Springsteen influence, mostly with McDermott’s heartfelt, gruff vocals and his fearlessness in referencing greats such as Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, Shakespeare, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning in his lyrics. These songs might be orphans, in that they were all originally leftovers from previous albums, but they’re not second rate.
These songs are substantial.
In this day and age, surely that alone is enough.
Released UK 12th April 2019
Released US 8th February 2019