Songwriting Against Type

With songwriter Bruce McDermott, a listener can always find something she likes.

Bruce can’t be categorized. With five CDs to his credit, his songs fall into the blues and rock styles readily, but there are also pronounced hints of country and folk.

“I like pretty much all genres,” he told me. “I am basically a singer who enjoys any good melody.”

In fact, his website is divided into five sections: New Blues, CT Country, Folky Stuff, Acoustic & Vocal, and Electronic. Take your pick!

Of those CDS, I own at least two. I pull “Songs Sort of Blue” out when I’m looking for a bluesy antidote to the garbled ramblings in my head. “Fallen Angels: I’m Just A Man,” with its thought-provoking ballad, “Baghdad Highway,” has more of a folk-rock feel.

The gravelly voice and mix of plucked acoustic chords and jamming notes from his electric guitar and keyboard lend themselves to stories about hard luck and heavy spirits. Even the seemingly optimistic “I’m So Lucky, Baby” is really a tongue-in-cheek lament over love lost. “I thank the Lord,” Bruce sings, “you’re gone.” And if there’s any happiness, it’s the listener’s relief that Bruce has sung himself free of a soured relationship.

The guitar he chooses varies, depending on the sound he’s after.

“I usually play a 6 string acoustic Martin D28 or a Taylor nylon, but sometimes you can’t beat an electric for that R&R number,” Bruce says.

His favorite artist is Neil Young, but songwriters he’d emulate cover the spectrum from Cole Porter to Lightning Hopkins.

Come on down to Captain’s Pizza, 8 Bank St., Friday, July 20 from 5-7 p.m. to hear Bruce share his songs and his bad, bluesy self.

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