SIX ON THE OUT
PAUPER SKY MUSIC
IF I HAD A GUN–PAUPER’S SKY–PAROLEE–THE GANG’S ALL HERE–LIKE YOU USED TO–EVERYTHING IS ALL I WANT FOR YOU–HENRY MCCARTY–SANTA FE–ONCE UPON A TIME–THIS I KNOW–SIRENS
Back in 2015, the folk-Americana duo The Westies, consisting of husband-and-wife Michael McDermott and Heather Horton, released their critically-acclaimed debut, “West Side Stories,” which dealt with the resolve of urban city dwellers in dealing with the rigors of daily life. The follow-up is here, and is entitled “Six On The Out.” It is the natural progression from the first album, with what happens next to those characters.
They are a varied and troubled set of characters, indeed. There are those who are trying to fit into society once again after release from incarceration, there are the homeless, and the down-on-their-luck hustlers, and there are those who inhabit not only the streets where we live, but also the corners of our own minds.
That’s how the set kicks off. Just released and back on the streets, the hero of “If I Had A Gun” realizes that he’s just one “hookup from Lucky Leo” from being back in the joint. The title cut traces those who are “slaves to those neon dreams and back-alley schemes,” and has a definite Springsteen vibe. Heather takes the lead vocal on a lover’s poignant plea for a little less drinking and a little more love, “Like You Used To.”
“Henry McCarty” plays out like a movie out of the Old West, as we learn that Henry is an outlaw “with a pistol you stole from your stepdad, and the ghost of your mother at your side.”
We had two favorites, too, and they were pretty much polar opposites. Mandolin from Lee Price and Will Kimbrough’s guitar trace the story of the down-and-outers who make up “Hail Hail The Gang’s All Here,” a modern-day “Piano Man.” And, the set closes on a somber note, with the dark tale of a five-year-old boy who sees his mother murdered by his father. For all the rest of his life, the young man is haunted by the “Sirens” he hears in his mind.
The human condition is flawed, frail, and full of shortcomings, but, somehow, we persevere. That’s the message The Westies are getting across to us with “Six On The Out.” This is a brilliant set of songs that show how the human spirit can indeed overcome long odds. Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.