Missing / Tom McCormack
With a little push from the artist himself and his friend and gay radio programmer Bert Wylen of WXPN in Philadelphia, I have discovered a tremendously talented and out singer/songwriter named Tom McCormack. Tom's being an openly gay recording artist has nothing to do with the quality of his music, but as you listen to what you will agree is the definitive gay album you can certainly appreciate and understand his straightforward honesty in examining our identities both real and as facqades.
Missing is McCormack's third album following Rose Colored Glasses and Running With Light and is self-described as "an invitation to all to come as you are." As an openly gay recording artist McCormack gives a gay understanding to the confessional pop music genre. The trappings are the same as in "straight" music, but he tells those listeners of things they haven't heard before: 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.")
McCormack's powerful tenor vocals are reminiscent of at different times a young Billy Joel, an Elton John or a Kenny Loggins, but he will make the unique quality his own and soon you won't try to compare him to anyone. Lost in the melodious sound of his vocals and evocative keyboards he will become himself to you, bare his emotional side to you, but still allow access to experiences to which heterosexual listeners might never find analogies in their own lives. This is the gay album we've all been waiting for, the album which can make it in the mainstream.
In Missing, McCormack reminds us that we choose to be missing, discarding parts of our identity like a road we engineer only later to abandon. We choose to fall into a deep sleep of invisibility. Likewise we can choose to be found, reclaim the ground of our being. We can choose to wake up. After evoking a continued sense of loss, "Missing" ends with a hopeful sense of revelation, "Woke up today / I woke up today / Oh what a beautiful morning."
The songs are not over produced, leaving each song to make it on its own, a wise move by producer Steve Sandberg. Guitar work by Adam Rogers is equally as beautiful as McCormack's piano and counterpoints the emotion of McCormack's passionate vocal deliveries. Listen to an equally fine accordion by Charlie Giordano. There is also a slew of background vocalists, none finer than Melinda DiMaio and Grant King on "I Love You More."
Intelligent lyrics abound in Missing, an album which has as its central concept, freedom. Freedom to be yourself; to act, think and love in a way true to yourself. According to McCormack, "to be missing is to have been held captive by outside threat or inner tyrant," as the words in the title song convey. "I had been misplaced / Had been erased / I found another face / Maybe it found me / Maybe the sound of my heart scared me away from recognizing what was me."
"Freedom once achieved is a healing force that moves with an insistence that seeks greater freedom for all," he adds.
In "Love Is Love," McCormack sings "You only have to look inside your heart to know what love is / Why do we live divided / 'Cause of whom we love / 'Cause of color or creed / All people need love / Not just from the people they're of / We can't reap the harvest / Until we plant the see that love is love is love." According to Tom this song is in protest of those who would dictate the parameters of socially acceptable love.
Favorites on this album are difficult, but to this reviewer "Time Of Our Times" is every bit as great a song as Billy Joel's breakthrough hit "The Piano Man." He also strokes an emotional chord with a politics gone wrong tune, "Don't Tell." One of the most beautiful tunes on this album is "In Secret," which sounds as if it could have been penned by Bernie Taupin and Elton John. Poetically stunning is the love anthem, "I Will/To You," in which McCormack coos, "My voice to sing the song that ends the moon's eclipse / My tongue to lick the honey from your lips / To you - my mouth / Will I love you still? / I will."
McCormack is more than busy with scoring a new musical comedy about cannibalism entitled "Quiche Lorraine" with co-lyricist and librettist Lauren Wolpert; music for Cinemax cable network and other future works in progress. His releases are available at Tower Records/NYC, A Different Light/NYC, Giovanni's Room/Philadelphia, through Ladyslipper distribution and Credence Cassettes as well as directly through Spotted Dog. His club and performing credits are too numerous to list in this review but are very impressive. McCormack has received radio play on American Public Radio's "World Cafe," on WXPN/Philadelphia's "Gaydreams" with Bert Wylen and many other stations in the northeast.
IN TOUCH magazine says McCormack represents everything to be proud of about our community; great voice great writer/producer and out gay performer. One of the strongest, most appealing voices in gay pop music. I have to agree and hope that you will let your curiosity get the best of you and locate this album. You won't regret it for a second.
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