Michael McDermott: Orphans review – Self-lacerating reminiscences

Thu, Mar 28, 2019, 05:00



Michael McDermott

Pauper Sky Records

Singer / Songwriter

Life weighs heavily on some shoulders. Guilt, remorse and a steely resolve stalk the songs of Irish-American Chicagoan Michael McDermott: “I know this heart, better than you/ I know its scars, and what it’s been through / I know it’s hard, these things that we do/ I’m sorry for those dreams, that never came true” (“Full Moon Goodbye”).

These 12 songs have been rescued from the cutting room floor of the Westies singer’s two recent solo sets, Willow Springs and Out from Under, both of which chronicled a life free of drugs and drink, which had bedevilled his career.

Yet there is nothing redundant about these self-lacerating reminiscences. While jangling rockers, such as the Springsteenish Tell Tale Heart (with a shout-out to Bobby Sands), punch with most immediacy, the telling blows are delivered by a stream of deeply felt ballads, including Los Angeles, A Lifetime Ago; Black Tree, Blue Sky; and Meadowlark: “The further that you go/ Between the borderline of faith and fear/ The less you seem to know/  The more things seem crystal clear … ”

McDermott sings with painful honesty and is supported well by partner Heather Lynne Horton and a cast of strong players.