Au Courant

Philadelphia PA

Tom McCormack is hardly 'Missing'

Openly gay recording artist Tom McCormack takes the singer/songwriter genre of confessional pop music to a new place. The trappings are the same: glimpses of telling experience served straightforwardly and honestly, leaving the spotlight for the lyrics rather than instrumental virtuosity. But in his new cd Missing, McCormack's experiences are those not often heard in pop music: the journey out of the closet ("Coming,") the fear that keeps you in ("Don't Tell,") the matter-of-fact pain of loving someone while being unable to let others know of your joy ("In Secret.")

A release notes that Missing treads more on universal territory than on the isolated turf of queer politics. But by allowing access to experiences straight listeners might never find analogous to their own lives, McCormack enables his hetero audience common emotional ground.

The most interesting track, to me, was "Coming" which was about the coming-out process (nothing terribly sexual here). The song is a storyof a young girl's innocent attraction to her girlfriend, moves on through her marriage and faked passion, to a midlife awakening that will not be denied. As the character realizes that what is at stake is control of her own life, she discovers not only what pride is about, but what it means to stand up and claim your equality. A sample lyric, when the woman falls victim of judgment:

I hear a man spitting hatred / It dribbles down his chin / He's yelling, "God loves the sinner but he hates the sin" / And I turn and I tell him / Sin was never to have opened up my heart / I never spoke my name / I never knew what part was mine to play in this game / And I feel ashamed 'cause this is not a game / This is my life, my heart, my love / I am not to blame / And if you feel the need ... to blame / Then blame it on freedom."

BILLBOARD notes "Politics and philosophy aside, McCormack has an appealing vocal style and a clever way of turning phrases that should interest alternative, album rock, and even AC programmers."

August 1994

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