Mike McClure has been a fixture of the Americana touring scene for the past 25+ years both as a founder member of the Red Dirt Band and as a sideman for artists such as the late lamented Jimmy LaFave among others. This is his latest album but his first since finding sobriety, and in the wake of lockdown the first wherein he has spent time with family and been truly ‘present’.
As such the album comes weighted with a back story but that doesn’t inhibit a sense of optimism that seeps through the tracks, particularly in the upbeat opener ‘I Am Not Broken’, a defiant, almost surprised, shout to the world. ‘Become Somebody’ also has this sense of a survivor telling of his tale. The album unfolds in a series of vignettes and the style is very much by the numbers Americana – grizzled voice with a catch in it when emoting, some classy accompanists and some neat production touches – the harmonies and understated fiddle on ‘Little Bit of Love’, the touches of organ in ‘Holiday Blown’ – but it is all a little too much same old same old. All except ‘Orion’ which is the album’s highlight with its beautiful intro and real tension. I will forgive him rhyming Orion with ‘tryin’’
This is a solid album with some strong performances but the songwriting is too conservative given the recent back story. An opportunity missed.