Wednesday, July 27, 2011

CD review - Sean McDermott's You're Not Alone

Fans of Broadway tenor Sean McDermott are in for a real treat with the release of his latest album You're Not Alone. McDermott possesses a distinctly beautiful vocal instrument that can soar to the rafters and beyond on standards like Rodgers' and Hammerstein's "Younger Than Springtime" or Streisand's "Piece of Sky" from Yentl. In fact, his previous CDs My Broadway and Piece of Sky concentrated 100% on Broadway/film tunes. You're Not Alone is definitely more contemporary pop, but within the realm of clearly defined musical traditions, boasting mostly original compositions that explore the quest for love and exude the kind of musical style that is ideally suited to McDermott's range and bravura delivery.

Many of the songs are by composer Ivan Koutikov and lyricist Charlie Midnight whose opening title song "You're Not Alone" is a theatrically chilling listening experience. Midnight's lyrics for "Magic of Stars" are yet another example of the purity of catching the dream, seemingly elusive or out of reach at first, but by the final bars within the limits of possibility. McDermott's prowess as a singer captures the hunger and thirst of the soul for something more perfect, more... worth waiting for. And in "Worth the Wait", there it is again, that soulful yearning of body and soul for one special love. Its melancholy strains put me in the mood not unlike that set forth in Streisand's 1975 "Lazy Afternoon". That song stays with me until this day as a reminder of my mother who died at the height of its popularity on the charts. I will never forget her agonizing pain or the haunting tone of that song, and I am able to relate the two. And with "You're Not Alone" and other tunes on McDermott's album, there is that distinctive, melancholy mood conveyed that is at once thoughtful and specifically appealing to the senses. There are also three well-performed traditional pieces: "Danny Boy" - beautifully arranged, especially the first track of it, a "Whiter Shade of Pale" and the very spiritually rousing "You Raise Me Up". "Walking in Memphis" has an obvious personal allure but is a rather unconventional fit with the other songs. The album's true meaning comes through at its best in the aforementioned earlier selections as well as in "One Lifetime's Not Enough" and on Midnight's compelling "Ordinary Man".

I love Sean McDermott's voice and his brave endeavor into the world of contemporary pop. With the music business in more of a precarious state than ever, any change on the part of an artist - to attempt to enhance his repertoire and to reach out to the feelings of a broader audience is surely to be lauded. You're Not Alone expresses the struggles and joy of an ordinary man. As a singer, McDermott, anything but ordinary, is like fine wine. He simply gets better and better.

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