home listen reviews a-z
Michael McNevin

SKETCH  •  all by Michael McNevin

I'm a steady rollin man, and I roll both night and day. There is something truly remarkable, heartwarming, inspiring, and compelling about the gypsy soul California songwriter Michael McNevin. He stands like a missing link between the 60s folk poets and the slicked up market conscious singer songwriters of today. He records and releases his own records, has a small independent booking agent, and covers many of the states every year gigging.

Lot of singer songwriters I know have ancillary angles that fill out the schedule, widen the profile and pad the bank account a little. Some give lessons, songwriting workshops or other programs in schools, sell poetry or books at gigs, artwork or jewelry. But McNevin is probably the only notorious Etch A Sketch artist in the pack. You laugh--but check it out. He sometimes has his Etch A Sketch art photographed, exhibited, and sold. There's something fascinating about that approach, because it's usually intended to be erased, like the breathtaking sand mandalas of the Tibetan monks or the sand paintings of the Navajos (see our scenic detour). He is also known to take his art into the schools and do special programs with kids. (If you're interested in one of these, acquiring his art, or booking a gig, write to Susan Moss at Horse of a Different Color Booking.)

Most of the In the Rough songs were penned alone, but the touching "Silver Hair" was written with Tom Prasada-Rao, and I am partial to the co-write with the very talented Buddy Mondlock, which begins this way:

I’m a good kind of tired
in a rugged terrain
mug full of coffee
sky full of rain
old timers talkin
about ten different ways
of getting from nowhere to somewhere

In The Rough is mostly just the excellent country blues picking of McNevin, super clean and unassuming, and matter of fact, very conversational poetry and melody about life, love, and work, without making the slightest deal whatsoever about any of it. None of it's overthought, oversung, overplayed, or overproduced. It's a lovely mixture of a well-seasoned performer and traveler with a young turn of mind.

For a more produced version of Michael McNevin, check out the CD Sketch, co-produced, recorded, and mixed by our ironman friend Cliff Goldmacher, with some of Nashville's finest in the tracking room. We include a few clips from that and a couple from the EP Songs of the Oregon Trail, cut and co-produced by In the Rough's Bruce Kaphan. Those clips await you on the Listen page, and buy the music of Michael McNevin here. • FG

return to covers      listen to clips


puremusic home