First Appeared in The Music Box, July 2004, Volume 11, #7
Written by John Metzger
Throughout his career, Michael McDermott consistently has been compared to Bruce Springsteen, and after a single listen to any of his albums it’s easy to see why that is. Both artists share similarly scratchy, scrappy voices, and they passionately apply them to soulful roots-rock tunes with lyrics drawn straight from the lives of common men. As both artists have matured, they’ve increasingly tackled more worldly events plucked straight from today’s headlines while tossing in the towel on crafting the epic stories that tended to fill their early efforts.
Indeed, the best moments of McDermott’s latest endeavor Ashes come when he sounds the most like Springsteen in his heyday, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing either. In fact, it just happens to be his strength. Whenever he strays into some other realm — as he does most egregiously on the ominous, overly programmed, and drum heavy Dance with Me — a sterility creeps into his music that zaps all of his momentum, undermining the better portions of the album as well as the strength of his lyrics. Yet, he fully redeems himself within the funky, horn-infused R&B groove of Gonna Be Good as well as the soaring, graceful strains of the collection’s final two tracks (Can’t Sleep and Around the World). Granted, nothing here is going to garner McDermott the type of minor hit success that he had with A Wall I Must Climb — a lot has changed since his days of MTV airplay — but long-time fans undoubtedly will be pleased.
Ashes is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box