Having long emerged from his critically celebrated but widely ignored band Dream City Film Club, Michael J. Sheehy has made significant strides, if sometimes equally unnoticed measures, in his solo ventures. Releasing a string of albums that have explored blues, folk, and rock with both curious experiment and dyed-in-the-wool tradition, Sheehy has been loyal to his instrument of choice: the guitar. Whether strummed acoustically or charged with electricity seemingly extracted from powers beyond the Earth’s mesosphere, Sheehy has always brought an at once spiritual and sensuously earthy practice to his guitar work. That is to say nothing of his voice; worn and weathered yet always lustrous, like tarnished gold.
In Dream City Film Club, Sheehy wailed and growled his way through nerve-shredding numbers of the blues-punk persuasion, instilling fear in the hearts of those who heard his lyrics of damnable love. In the six albums he’s released under his own name, including last year’s Distance is the Soul of Beauty (2020), Sheehy has harnessed the intensity and passion of his voice, distilling the stormy howls to a croon aching and lovely with tender bruises.
The final track on Distance Is the Soul of Beauty, “Everything That Rises Must Converge”, consigns his guitar to the outer reaches of the song, allowing a hypnotic drum loop and an elysian ambiance to layer the midground. Front and center is the full-bodied soul of Sheehy’s voice. It sings of transcendence and resolve and, driven by a poignancy that can only be the preserve of songwriters everywhere, its poetic intention is brought home by this very simple and direct avowal: “We are only here to love, and everything that rises must converge…”