Pauper Sky Music [Release date 03.06.16]
The Westies is a new vehicle for singer songwriter Michael McDermott, a man who’s been treading the boards Stateside for 25 years, whose lyrics have been quoted in several Stephen King books, and who is known for performing patriotic numbers like ‘God Bless America’ and ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ at sports arenas and stadiums across the US.
In truth, intentionally or otherwise, he’s taken Springsteen’s early template and run with it. He’s even married his backing singer Heather Horton.
But while the song may remain the same, The Boss has long since moved on from this particular block, and The Westies is actually a tale of redemption for McDermott heralded as the ‘next big thing’ on his arrival on the scene with his 1991 Don Gehman produced debut 620 W.
It was a bad time to be starting out, and many of the most promising artists/bands of a generation crashed and burned as record company budgets were reeled in at an alarming rate. McDermott spiralled, out of control. Our own Gehman-produced act River City People suffered a similar fate, but were never to recover.
Two decades on, clean and sober, the rise in popularity of Americana has provided the perfect stage for McDermott to dig deep, and recount the stories of his lost years utilising steel guitars, mandolins and fiddles, and leaning on his Irish heritage. The reward may no longer be counted in ‘greenbacks’, but the sense of triumph in the face of adversity is palpable.
A hugely impressive story tellers set. Give it a listen. You will not be disappointed ****
Review by Pete Whalley
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