Gin & Rosewater

Chuck McDermott

Amber Gate Music, 2017

http://www.ChuckMcDermott.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/29/2017

For over four decades now Chuck McDermott has been making music is some form of another. While a pair of albums as Chuck McDermott and Wheatstraw gained him plenty of high praise in the world of country music, years later he'd tear up the rock'n'roll scene as the Chuck McDermott Band. During this time Chuck befriended John Stewart, and the two would collaborate until Stewart's death in 2008.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Though McDermott has pursued conventional employment in recent years, he returns here with a country album that encapsulates all the grace and wisdom he's picked up from a lifetime of storytelling.

“Belvedere” starts the album with McDermott's warm, agile voice where cozy guitars, backing vocals and aching pedal steel that just oozes with timeless Americana. “A Thousand Cuts” follows with a breeziness endemic to all our favorite country tunes, and a memorable chorus. “The Girl From St. Lucy” is a gentle, acoustic strummer, where McDermott's pipes reveal a sage-like quality as the song emits a timeless quality. That timelessness is also evident on the moody soft rock of “Irresistible Targets,” which shows a Fleetwood Mac influence. The title track “Gin And Rosewater” is another moody rocker, with more forceful vocals and a subtle haunting backdrop that makes it one of the best offerings here.

The second half of the album is equally strong with the guitar acrobatics of “Red Betty,” the emotional building of “James Foley Diaries,” and the wandering, psyche-influenced “Hold Back The Water,” which brings soundbites. As the album gets deeper, McDermott gets more introspective, as evident on the Tom Waits-influenced “Downtown Bus,” which segues into the Johnny Cash cover “I Walk The Line,” which is very unlike Cash with a silky smooth, subdued approach.

McDermott proves his worth as a Massachusetts Country Music Hall of Famer in spades here, and it turns out his Americana prowess is top-notch, too. Let's hope he keeps his focus on music, ’cause it's clearly what he does best.

Rating: B+

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