“Music makes a deep connection when it strikes that delicate nerve separating the personal from the universal. If the listener can use the songs as mirrors, then the musician has succeeded in communicating their art.”

Well, I don’t know about that really. But if he’s talking about the same feeling I get when Louie Louie is playing then I can dig it.

I vaguely remember someone sometime a good while ago telling me I had to listen to Michael McDermott. Back in the early 90s McDermott was the new boy toast of the music industry with his debut album 620 W. Surf. He’d started out in the coffee houses in the sixties, worked his way up and eventually got a deal and an album. The single from it “A Wall I Must Climb” crossed over and made 34 in the mainstream charts.

But sometimes you just don’t sell quite enough records to please the suits, and that set him on the course he’s been on ever since.

He’s been making albums and touring and making albums and touring and hooking up with old friends and making albums and touring and, you get the picture, ever since.

Chicago based singer-songwriter Michael MacDermott makes music on his own terms. He is the ultimate survivor of the potentially soul-crushing world of money-hungry executives and starving singer-songwriters yearning for a little more than they’re already hanging on to.

He’s persevered and built a career fortified by more than a dozen studio albums and critical acclaim from Rolling Stone, The New York Times, CNN, and The Washington Post amongst others.

Sometimes you forget that there are still people out there doing that. Thank the lord for them. They’re the backbone of rock ‘n roll. Or Americana, judging from the fact that’s where most of the success of his last album “What In The World” came from.

And so we come to “St. Paul’s Boulevard. These are big grown-up songs. Big grown-up songs with big grown-up stories that could be real. That probably are.

They’re populated with the young and old, the rich and poor, the beautiful losers, drunks, dopers, lost lovers, the betrayed and the heartbroken.

In his own words “Everyone has their own St. Paul’s Boulevard, the place where we left pieces of our hearts, our innocence, where we suffered heartbreak, came to learn about shame, where we struggled to find our place in the world”.

The album title track itself is almost lovely. It sounds like one of those that’s all folks time to go home songs. The lyrics tell a different story though, the story of two losers getting together just because they’ve got the same sort of scars, and trying to survive. By the time the album ends with “Paris” you’re crossing everything for a happy ending.

Imagine if Elvis Costello had stayed with his Flip City country vibe and joined up with Bruce Springsteen to form a band. That’s what this album sounded like to me, the first time I played it. It sounded like it the second time as well.

Hell, Stephen King namechecks him in his books for heaven’s sake!

If you haven’t got any Michael McDermott in your Americana section now just might be the time to add some. What’s a guy got to do to catch a break around here?

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