Michael J. Sheehy

No Longer My Concern

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True to form, Michael J. Sheehy's third solo album isn't a particularly happy affair. If, after Sweet Blue Gene and Ill Gotten Gains, it seemed that things couldn't possibly get any worse for the self-proclaimed "short, bald fella," No Longer My Concern proves otherwise. Here, he continues down a murky, confessional path, spinning tales of excessive boozing, sordid sex, self-loathing, and all-consuming ennui. As with Sheehy's previous records, stripped-down rock & roll, swamp blues, and some deceptively beautiful ballads provide a soundtrack to the dark night of his tortured soul. This is indeed black mood music and, by Sheehy's own admission, these songs are often personal, but, as usual, his self-deprecating humor and wicked sense of irony save them from becoming maudlin. With its cool, finger-snapping rockabilly beat and sassy female backing vocals, "Donkey Ride Straight to Hell" is a case-in-point, chronicling the experience of being dumped for a better-endowed suitor. Similarly tongue-in-cheek, "Pigboy" simmers with bluesy self-hatred ("When I catch my reflection/I don't like what I see," complains Sheehy). In Sheehy's quieter moments, his moody melodies and soulful crooning have prompted comparisons with arch miserablists like Tindersticks; such comparisons are borne out by the haunted, slow-burning "Teardrop Time" and the brooding "Dark Country Moment." Sheehy has always had a flair for acoustic numbers with a distinctly hymnal feel and this album offers further evidence of that talent, especially on "Distracting Yourself From the Doom," with its lilting piano and standup bass. While No Longer My Concern doesn't diminish Sheehy's reputation as a singer/songwriter with a distinctive noir sound and vision, it could be argued that his routine is wearing a little thin. Still, this is the last album in a trilogy and, hopefully, subsequent projects will see him expand his repertoire a little.

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