Strolling Down McDermott's Boulevard
Bruce Von Stiers
An album was recently sent to me to review. This album is by folk rock singer/songwriter Michael McDermott. I didn't know anything of McDermott or his music. But as soon as I heard the album, I could understand why he has received critical acclaim from Rolling Stone, The New York Times and even Stephen King.
The title of the album is St. Paul's Boulevard. It is being described as sort of a concept album. McDermott has taken moments from his life, and others lives, and molded songs to fit the stories.
McDermott co-produced the album with veteran producer Steven Gillis. Gillis also played drums on the album It was recorded at Pauper Sky Studios and Transient Sound. The album has fifteen songs and a play time of just over an hour. It is being released on the Pauper Sky Records label.
Matt Thompson was on acoustic and electric bass. According to a bio sketch about him, Thompson has played on over thirty albums and has contributed to several film soundtracks. Grant Tye has played gigs in major clubs and opened for a ton of people. He plays guitar on the album. Heather Lynne Horton plays violin on the album and provides vocals. Not only is Horton a noted solo artist, she has worked on a side project with McDermott called The Westies. And she is also McDermott's wife. Vijay Tellis-Nayak was on piano and organ. He's performed with such artists as Jennifer Hudson and provided music for theater productions such as The Lion King and Wicked.
Other musicians who played on the album were Danny Mitchell on piano and keyboards, John Deaderick on piano, organ and keyboards, David Grissom on guitars and Will Kimbrough on guitars, banjo and mandolin. Mitchell plays music and does backing vocals for Miranda Lambert. Grissom has toured with a whole bunch of headliners and has his songs recorded by such artists as Trisha Yearwood and Lee Ann Womack. Deaderick has toured with James Taylor and recorded with Emmylou Harris. Kimbrough has an extensive list of people he has toured and recorded with. He has worked on a few albums that I've reviewed by Jesse Terry.
After a brief spoken introduction, the album has the first song, Where The Light Gets In. It has a toe-tapping beat. The song deals with being down and yet there is hope because “ the wound is where light gets in.” The vocals are fluid with a slightly throaty tone.
Our Little Secret is a fast-paced love song. There are several places in the song where Horton shares the vocals with McDermott.
Sick of This Town is a lament about being trapped in a town where he can't seem to get ahead. And yet, he can't seem to be able to leave. That is a story that is often played out in real life. Sometimes you just can't break away.
The Arsonist is about being in a mindset of helplessness and self-destruction.
New Year's Day deals with trying to start all over again, just like New Year's resolutions. Instead of goals like losing weight, these goals are toward rebuilding their lives and their relationship.
Knowing that they are losing each other and how to fix it is pretty much the theme of Meet Me Halfway.
Some of the other songs on the album include All That We Have Lost, The Outer Drive, Dead By Dawn and Peace, Love and Brilliant Colors.
Marlowe is a toe tapping piece with great vocals. It pays tribute to the Phillip Marlowe private detective character, with references to Gatsby, Hemingway and even Michelagelo.
The title track, St. Paul's Boulevard, is a slow and heartbreaking tune. Lives ruined and loves lost are central themes of the song.
Paris is a lyrical love song that has some great piano in it.
My favorite song on the album is the fast paced Pack The Car. Getting up and going away from their existing lives is the theme of the song.
With St. Paul's Boulevard, Michael McDermott delves into the grit that is our human experience. He takes life's troubles and either tries to uplift them or at least try to explain how they came to be. Lost souls, lost love, redemption and finding love again are themes that appear in the songs throughout this album. And McDermott does them well.
As you are reading this, St. Paul's Boulevard is being released. It will be available on most music streaming services and other selected music outlets.
If you are interested in finding out more about the album and Michael McDermott, visit https://michael-mcdermott.com/
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© 2022 Bruce E Von Stiers