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the pathetic caverns - music by artist - Michael McDaeth

eclectic reviews and opinions

Michael McDaeth

Shine in Reverse

(self-released, 2005)

You have to meet McDaeth at least halfway, if you're even willing to try. Shine in Reverse comprises almost 30 tracks with almost nothing but McDaeth's voice, acoustic guitar, and occasional harmonica bleats. McDaeth isn't a fancy guitar player and he sticks mostly to strumming. He can establish a credible groove, but he has a tendency to drop beats across transitions. Some of the songs are more-or-less identifiably rooted in the blues tradition, but most avoid the standard verse/chorus/bridge song structures. They often don't sound composed so much as emitted.

Shine in Reverse confronts the listener with the fundamental dilemma of outsider art: is it actually good, or is it just weird?

What makes it work (when it works) is primarily McDaeth's fearless and rigorous exploration of his own voice. Like a baby learning to speak, he seems determined to make every noise his mouth can possibly make; as a result, he sounds (for a few syllables at a time, at least) uncannily like a number of great singers.

The other thing McDaeth has going for him is uncompromising artistic intensity and integrity. He clearly believes in what he's doing, and that belief is sometimes contagious.

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