Maybe the more appropriate title for this album would be “Second Chance Lounge,” since Michael McDermott was a casualty of the 1990s major label hijinks. Over three albums and two labels he was consistently being pegged as a Dylan and Springsteen devotee, and there was some validity to the claim evidenced in tunes like his first hit single, “A Wall I Must Climb”. After closing out the decade with a self-released album, Bourbon Blue, in 1999, that sold 10,000 copies mostly in his native Midwest area, McDermott is back, albeit on a large indie label.
Five of the songs here are remixed and remastered from Bourbon Blue, including the first single, “Junkie Girl”, an ode to a former girlfriend who was a heroin addict. Of the rest, standouts include the pulsing, organ-laced “Unemployed”, which is a rousing, not-too-serious look at being out of work (“Call me a slacker, you can call me a waste, I’m just a pauper with a prince’s taste”). The Springsteen-like “Spark”, uses the words “Thunder cracks”, which a good Bruce fan would pick up on as a (probably unintentional) Boss reference, even without the “Tunnel of Love” feel to the song.
A capable singer with a knack for literate folk rock, McDermott is a natural fit for fans of Peter Himmelman, The Wallflowers, and the aforementioned Springsteen. At times, those influences still overpower the underlying strength of a song like the elegiac “Murder on Her Lips”, but he is increasingly able to make them work for him rather than against him.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. We need your help to keep PopMatters strong and growing. Thank you.
// Notes from the Road
"Saul Williams played a free, powerful Summerstage show ahead of his appearance at Afropunk this weekend.READ the article