Michael McDermott’s new album What in the World' finds him in top form as he blasts his way through politics, life, love, and loss with all the prowess of a great storyteller and musician who's writing and playing better than ever.
The Chicago native has had a difficult career covering three decades; from early aplomb and high praise from Stephen King and the music industry, he has persevered against struggles with alcohol, record companies, and the mainstream media. Despite all the knocks and struggles, he has still enjoyed success most recently with 2016’s number one album ‘Willow Springs’.
‘What in the World…’ is a record that acknowledges that struggle and finds him stronger for it.
The explosive title track opens the album with a rush of high octane energy rock as McDermott uses sharp lyrics that cut deep in a stinging critique of the policies of the Trump administration. While the touching ‘Blue Eyed Barmaid’ is a classic Americana barroom tale with a twist that sees the characters switch roles as the coffee drinking customer becomes the confidant for the troubled barmaid to unburden her woes upon.
McDermott’s vocal delivery falls somewhere in between the styles and ranges of Chuck Prophet and Jessie Malin, equally at home on the soul searching ballad ‘Veils of Veronica’ or the slide driven country-rocker ‘The Things You Want’.
With its saxophone led intro, ‘Contender’ sounds like it could easily have been backed by the E Street Band providing an irreverent commentary on McDermott’s experiences within the music industry. Whereas, ‘Positively Central Park’ is a mostly acoustic tune that’s dripping with romantic longing and some of the best lyrics on the album.
‘What in the World…’ is a masterclass in storytelling and social commentary. McDermott’s characters and stories are fully realised in the vein of the works of Springsteen or Dylan and he places those characters within a soundscape that blends melodic guitar rock with country and Americana proving that McDermott is an artist who talents deserve much more recognition than he has received to date.