I must confess, this is going to be more of a big “Thank you” to Michael McDermott than an album review. Sorry about that, but if hang with me here, the review of the album is below.
So, I have been a fan of Michael McDermott since his 1st ablum 620 W. Surf. I was struck instantly by his honesty and originality. His lyrics were so honest, it was almost like he was writing a real life but sureal life movie script. Maybe that is why Stephen King fell in love with his work so much.
I read reviews of his first couple albums and every one of them brought up the same thing: he is this generations Dylan or Springsteen. Guess what, I am not a Dylan or Springsteen fan. I know, right? How dare you!!! But I still listened to Michael and always thought he was a complete original. To this day, he is one of the most original song writers I have ever heard.
I can go into detail of his career, but others have told this story much better than I could, just do a Google search. He can tell you the story of his rise and fall and rise again as well. In fact he does, in basically every one of his lyrics.
The list of incredible songs under his belt is stunning. He has more incredible songs on one album than most musicians have in a career. The album Bourbon Blue was created at probably his darkest time, but every song on it is brilliant. I still listen to it today and it is fresh and honest and perfect.
His fall was almost deadly. His fall was on an epic scale of falls. He visited the depths of hell and wandered around down there for quite a while. He crawled through 500 yards of shit and came out the other side with a new found love of life. I don’t know how he did it. I am glad he did.
I have never ever heard someone document with such detail their life like Michael. His fall and rise is poured out on each album like someone slit their wrists and bled all over it. On every song, you can hear his pain, his struggles and his life in 4k detail. And now his happiness. I can’t even fathom what he went through even though he documents it all in his songs.
I could not figure out why someone would be so openly honest about all the shit they have gone through. But then in 2018, I figured it out, and I thank him for it. Sometimes, you need an outlet to talk things out. So…
Thank you Michael McDermott.
2018 was a bad year. Very bad. And all the badness had been collecting up for years. 100% of it was due to my stupidity, carelessness and outright lack of seeing what I was doing and others around me. I was a fool. I still am a fool, but I am a fool now that is trying to fix that. I will go to my grave as a fool, but not without trying on a daily basis to make things right. You may have given up alcohol for 30 years, but you are still an alcoholic. I may not do another stupid thing in my life, but I will forever be stupid. It is just the way it goes.
Many nights I would sit at home and think about how or why I got to the point I was at. Depression is a serious killer. I was depressed a lot. I was so overweight, I couldn’t play soccer with my son. That hurt so bad. I was always in a bad mood. I was miserable. I lost the most important person in my life. I destroyed everything I loved. I needed some help.
There is a song off Michael’s album Willow Springs that I absolutely love. The song is Butterfly. Here is a video:
The lyrics of this song are hearbreaking. His voice and how it cracks at certain times while singing the song is heartbreaking. He is bleeding all over the keys and you can feel his pain like nothing I have ever heard before. this song is 1000% emotion.
And it helped me. Something so small like hearing a song keeping your spirits pointed in the right direction can be so big.
No matter how bad it got, Michael McDermott was still on this earth and writing songs about his survival. If he could survive, I could. Almost every time I would get depressed, I would put this song on and think, I can make it out alive. I am nowhere near as strong as Mr. McDermott, but I can come out alive. Just a song, a small SMALL part of life added with a few other positives kept my spirits pointed upward.
So again Michael, thank you. You don’t know me, but maybe someday I will see you at show and reach out to shake your hand and say Thank you. It is a small thing but a big thing in the whole scope of a life. Thank you sir. Stay strong.
One more thing before the review of Orphans: a very happy Michael. And Klem, we love Klem. No other person on earth has the groove Klem has on stage while playing the bass. I miss Dick Holliday and the Bamboo Gang. 🙂
This is an album of songs that Michael had passed on over his career. For some reason or another, they just didn’t make a record. That does not mean these songs are a lower tier of quality to the songs that made albums, it just means they didn’t fit. Trust me, every song on this album stands on it’s own and is equal or better than songs that he put on his albums.
The album has an overall sense of optimism. It is now 3 albums with that feeling and man, that is a good thing.
Tell Tale Heart is the the first to make you smile. “Lets make the most of the time in this world we live” is the second line of the song. Yes, Michael looking at the positive. The music has an uplifting groove to it as well. You default to a smile while listening.
The Last Thing I Ever Do is next up. This is a fantastic example of Michael’s work over the years. The music on this track is wonderful, and the lyrics are even better.
Ne’er Do Well: Excellent guitar work starts this song. I don’t think this name has ever been mentioned in a Michael McDermott review, but I get a Paul Simon groove on this tune. Michael’s playing and the band get your feet tapping quickly. Lovely song.
Meadowlark: Currently my favorite song on the album. Love the guitar playing on this. Love the vibe of the song. Love the video as well. It makes me smile seeing Michael smile and seeing all the places he has been touring lately. In my ears, one of the best Michael McDermott songs ever. Absolutely love it.
Sometimes it rains in Memphis: Man, when Michael pours his soul out in his vocals, you can really hear it. honest and not afraid to pour it all out. Just on the vocals alone, this song is stunning.
Givin up the Ghost: We’re givin up the ghost, I believe it’s time. Another song with heart felt vocals. Lovely backup vocals as well. Driving little beat and slide guitar solo. Nice.
Black Tree, Blue Sky: Okay, this may be my favorite song on the album. The lyrics again. Wow. Lovely song, painful song. Gorgeous.
The Wrong Side of Town: Groovy Memphis beat and guitar. Another chapter in the book of Mr. McDermott’s life written to words. Toe tapping enabled again.
In a Full Moon Goodbye: Another sad song about asking for forgiveness. Lovely.
Richmond: Upbeat. Love the repeating riff on guitar throughout the song. Love little things like that. Love the solo on this song as well. Very harmonic and groovy.
Los Angeles a Lifetime Ago: Storytelling over a slower ballad. Strong piano on this song. Almost Elton John like playing. Elton never told a story like this though.
What if Today Were My last: We all think this at certain times of our life. Michael puts it to music. A fitting last song on this album. Lovely piano and lyrics. Haunting keys in the background. This is Michael at his best. Like Butterfly (video above), hauntingly beautiful.
Michael has once again created a wonderful set of songs. Songs that didn’t fit other albums but fit here perfectly together. So good. Mixed and recorded so good. Story telling so good. Musicianship so good. It is all good.
Go see Michael if you can can and for God’s sake, go to https://michael-mcdermott.com/home and buy every album he has done. You will not be disappointed.
Wow, that was a long post. Thanks for making it through it all.