Orphans – Michael McDermott (reviewed by T. Bebedor)

It’s the same old story of a musician finding success early but not having the experience or ability to cope with the level of fame he finds himself in, inevitably the downward spiral comes calling and it takes courage, strength and faith to find himself again.

This is what happened to Michael McDermott in the early 1990’s with an album called ‘Gethsemane’. Finding his music on the radio and garnering attention from all directions McDermott quickly found himself in a bad place, but talent rarely leaves and eleven albums later we find ourselves once again listening to someone who has that rare ability to craft and shape songs with ease.

Orphans showcases the songs that didn’t quite make the cut on previous albums but also were too good to forget – and too stubborn to leave – but couldn’t find a home elsewhere so here they are on a twelve track album that draws in comparisons with Don Henley, Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen, actually I would go as far to say if you’re a fan of The Boss, you should grab this album with both hands!

It’s that good!

Music has always had a fondness for the combination of a husky voice and well-penned songs, what you’ll find here is variation, good musicianship and a band that can let loose but also rein in it when required. ‘Tell Tale Heart’ and ‘The Last Thing I Ever Do’ are straight up country rock and a superb double whammy of opening tracks, ‘Sometimes When It Rains In Memphis’  a reflective piece of storytelling and picture building where the lyrics conjure vivid images.

With the past as colourful as McDermott’s you allow him moments of melancholy, ‘Full Moon Goodbye’ and ‘Los Angeles a Lifetime Ago’ hint at past regrets and you immediately feel an empathy with him.

‘Black Tree, Blue Sky’ is haunting and beautiful and reinforces how assured his song writing is, it takes a deft musician to draw in so many styles yet keep the collection connected.

This is an album for fans of well crafted music, of good songs and lyrics written both from the heart and from experience, plus if you’re a fan of songs with a bitter edge or of hearing a band shake the ground, look no further.

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