ALBUM REVIEW: Michael J Sheehy – Distance Is The Soul Of Beauty (self release)
You really can’t be mad at the world and raging against the machines and the bills and the government amd all other stuff that needs to be raged at, you can’t even stay that mad at the artists and musicians that waste so many of your hours and days and years for long. Sometimes I get to thinking Michael J sheehy is complete and utter something or other and then he opens his mouth and starts singing in that beautiful way he does and butter wouldn’t melt and you think well these can’t actually be his songs? No, these must be some long long classics or slices of some obscure pieces of heart and soul that I somehow missed, these really must be covers? He must have forgot to put up the writing credits, no one writes new songs and then sings those new songs like this these days do they?. This new album, actually it feels more like a collection that anything, a gathering together of things, songs gathered up over a period of time and presented together – this new album is Michael at his most intimate, at his very best, burden almost lifted and yes, you do feel he has to live this way. This is his quiet side, he made the choice, sometimes you have to live this way he sings, a guitar, (or a paint brush, a broken typewriter) a dreamer? not sure, this is this is the reality of these things a billion songs exploding behind his eyes, “I Have to Live This Way” is just about as good as it gets for so so many many reasons.
You might know Michael J Sheehy from the criminally ignored Miraculous Mule or before that Saint Silas Intercession or way back to all our younger days of Dream City Film Club, then again you probably don’t know any of those names, they never meant that much in that many households when they really should.. This new album, his latest solo album – feels like an age since he last did it solo – they’re all worth tracking down as are most things he’s been involved in – this new solo album quietly released with no big fanfare or press release or anything else today is beautiful – a quiet album, reflective, pure, slightly raw both in terms of sentiment and sound – actually the sound is just right, as is the dying er,d of the day or the the dressing of greed in hunger’s clothes. This isn’t going to rock you out, it isn’t something to just put on and then get on with things, not some dirty piece of trash, and it certainly isn’t for the background – this is intimate, this is really really beautiful, this is inward looking, well outward as well, he is singing to someone, not sure who, it does feel like you’re listening in when you maybe you shouldn’t be, to his ghosts et to be born or like you’ve found a personal sketchbook and you’re sneaking a look when you know you shouldn’t- and when he does very briefly let the electric howl it hits you really hard without ever needing to really lash out to do it with any real force, that guitar howl when you really didn’t expect it – even third time around, you still don’t expect it, that howl of guitar in “Judas Hour” really does bite or lash or sooth or something like that – and you do hear that bit about selling you out for pennies just to watch them hang you high and you can’t remember what you came here for and staring at a bill that just can;t be paid and yes he does have to live this way. You see, the bloke from down the road who doesn’t mean that much to anyone simply doesn’t make albums like this, that guy who when he does play plays to hardly anyone doesn’t make albums like this – the kind of people who make albums like this are big people, respected people, the kind of people you hang everything on, the kind of people they make documentaries about, documentaries about their muses and Greek island adventures and books and words and lauded on the radio and…
And then there’s the box office poison and the truth of it all, the hole in your shoes, and it does cut right down to the marrow and really I could write anything here, and I long since stopped painting, brush in mouth for the fourth play of the new album that came out with no fanfare today and you long since stopped reading these words and you just did the right thing and cut to the music didn’t you? Is this regret? Does he have regret? is this hurt? is this reality? his reality? Yours? You;ve got to get right in there, in to the body of the album, not just the first couple of songs, you’ve got to put the work in, it really is that easy. Things that can’t be bought or sold, the reflection of perfection? See if writing about music this good was easy then the music wouldn’t mean that much, you can’t really write about things like this… And you? You’ll probably just go to the Bandcamp page and listen for a couple of minutes then move on with what you were doing when you really should be standing brush in mouth as well, everything stopped, every quiet gentle note hung on – Cohen, Cave, Waits, Cash, the King, yes, really. more damn hyperbol? Just let it in, don’t be afraid. These can’t be his songs, if a man was writing songs like this and singing them like this and doing it like this then everyone would be shouting about it,all the honourable pimps and damn damn damn, this album is so good, and there goes that guitar for the firth time and what a bastard! You maybe don’t think its up to much when you first listen to the open songs, and then you listen again, you listen to it for a fourth time, or the fifth time now and you really really listen to the quietness of it all and why the hell is it so damn good? And maybe one more listen before I get on with what I should be doing and…. (sw)