Michael McDermott review…May 30, 2016…

MICHAEL MCDERMOTT

WILLOW SPRINGS

PAUPER SKY RECORDS

WILLOW SPRINGS–THESE LAST FEW DAYS–GETAWAY CAR–SOLDIERS OF THE SAME WAR–BUTTERFLY–HALF EMPTY KINDA GUY–ONE MINUS ONE–FOLKSINGER–LET A LITTLE LIGHT IN–SHADOW IN THE WINDOW–WILLIE RAIN–WHAT DREAMS MAY COME

‘Bout twenty years ago, Michael McDermott was playing Chicago coffeehouses and had a major record deal and a hit album, “620 W.  Surf,” and was all set to be the “Next Big Thing.”  Then, life began to get in the way.  His personal demons nearly devoured him, but he overcame and persevered, to the point that now he’s ten albums into his career.  With the release of “Willow Springs,” he addresses all his hopes and failures,  loves and losses, and copes with his own shortcomings and ultimate redemption.

Michael is on vocals and a host of other instruments, and among several other players, there is his wife, Heather Horton, on backing vocals and fiddle, and Will Kimbrough on guitars, mandolin, and banjo.  We try to shy away from outright comparisons, but, as one listens to these songs,  you would be hard-pressed NOT to conjure up thoughts of Dylan or Springsteen.  Check out the opening title cut–it’s the story of a tortured soul who “wanders the wasteland for 40 days and 40 nights,” only to realize that “maybe it was you all along” he was seeking.  Michael adds plaintive harp to the story of “no ordinary dime-store crook” on his last ride in his Paradise-bound “Getaway Car,” with perhaps a nod to “Johnny 99” in its lyrics.

Whether struggling with PTSD or any addiction, the only sure thing is “We are Soldiers In The Same War,” and have been “for a thousand years.”   And, a lover from Michael’s youth makes poor choices and pays the ultimate price in “Butterfly,” finally realizing she is free.  Michael realizes he made the same choices and wonders himself, “I don’t know how I made it out alive!”

We had two favorites, too.  Coping with the loss of his father is the powerful draw of “The Shadow In The Window that’s missing.”  And, becoming a father to his little girl, “Willie Rain,” is the most blues-oriented cut on the set, featuring playful dobro and mandolin lines throughout.

Michael McDermott’s overnight success story only took twenty years, but he’s coped with whatever life has thrown at him.  Now clean and sober, he’s living the country life, down in “Willow Springs.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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