Artist: Michael McDermott
Album: Willow Springs
Label: Pauper Sky Records
Release Date: 06/17/2016
Willow Springs is an album that can be safely said to have been a long time a’coming but has positively been well worth the wait. Michael McDermott has been around a long time but seemed to have burnt himself out back in the mid-90s, following dangerous brushes with the law, drugs and heavy hitmen — hardly a winning choice of bed-fellows or buddies.
Now, with this wonderful release, he has again shown the power of self-discipline and redemption by resurfacing against the odds to produce an album that must surely be one of the finest releases of the year so far. Make no mistake, this is a truly excellent release from a guy who knows how to push musical buttons and write soulful, meaningful songs that echo and linger long in the memory.
McDermott moves effortlessly, sounding at times like early Springsteen at his very best coupled with lyrics that echo strongly to the beat of Dylan. Always expressive and arresting, reflective and even confessional, McDermott’s writing is tattered, ragged and raw, underpinned by stark, striking emotion and class.
Portrayed in part as a character in Brian Koppelman’s cult-classic poker movie “Rounders” in the late 90s, McDermott has experienced more in his short life than many or most would wish for, from the skids to the heights and back again.
The lyrical truth of this is clearly evident in the writing here, which is at turns honest and hurting and at others mellow and mindful. One track, “Willie Rain,” written for his young daughter, could have come from the pen of Gordon Lightfoot with its whimsical emotion and feeling — albeit with the strong, added grit of Springsteen’s steely, vocal delivery. A superb album worth catching, for sure.
– Iain Patience