:: Cameron McGill :: :: Road 34 :: September 12 :: :: Monolith Woxy.com Stage :: Sept. 13 @ 3:10 :: :: b.side Lounge :: September 15 :: :: Walnut Room :: September 18 ::
By Brian F. Johnson
Cameron McGill may be one of the most crucial singer/songwriters of our time.
For several years, the Chicago suburbs native has been churning out highly cerebral, intricately and immaculately phrased folk songs that couple extreme beauty and severe sadness together in a seemingly effortless union.
But one of his most recent songs, “Lose Americans” — a track that is on his yet to be released newest album Warms Songs for Cold Shoulders — is such a perfect description of the current state of our country that it makes most protest songs that’ve come before it seem like trite babble in comparison.
“Lose Americans” is this generation’s “Ohio,” this generation’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and this generation’s “What’s Goin’ On.” Very possibly, the reason that the song is so incredibly poignant is that it doesn’t mention Iraq or George W. Bush once, but alludes to some of the major core issues and problems facing our nation. “Generic is the crime of the century,” McGill croons on the song before adding, “America, how does it feel to rust? You swing on the hinge, break at the seams and do what you must.”
Just before setting off on his most recent tour, McGill told The Marquee that the song was written with a question in mind, and it’s a question that is answered all too clearly and sadly in the song. “I had no interest in writing your average anti-war or your average anti-Bush song. Those are a dime a dozen to me and usually very hackneyed and written in a very pedestrian kind of way. So I had no interest in writing that kind of tune. I was more interested in trying to find out the different kind of ways that a country could lose its citizens. What are the ways people can be disillusioned from their government, or from having a say in their country?” said McGill.
That unique spin on how he approaches his songs is what makes McGill so crucial and relatively recent changes to his live show have added such incredible power to his act that more people are finally starting to stand up and take notice of him. Touring for years as a solo artist, McGill has finally opened up his stage plan to a full band, What Army. The band has had several incarnations, but was first put together for McGill’s project Hold On Beauty, which he recorded in 2006 but released in late 2007.
The addition of the Army is the equivalent of the change between solo Ryan Adams (in his Heartbreaker era) and current Ryan Adams and The Cardinals, which plays blistering rock sets out of songs still strongly based in the folk realm.
“It makes you think differently,” McGill said about adding the band. “It allows you to write a certain kind of song that you could pull off that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to do in a captivating way yourself. Most of the songs are still acoustic guitar-based, but it comes alive because of that arrangement and we really have fallen in to what is natural for us.”
McGill is currently shopping the new album to prospective labels, hoping to find the right people or company to get material out to the public. “It’s never been the end all,” said McGill, “but I’m definitely at a point where I’d love to be able to find a home where I could have a more consistent way to release and distribute records.”
In the meantime, however, McGill is awash with projects. He’s recently been working on re-recording some of his previously released material with a classical string quartet, the Army has started recording new songs that were written the last time the band was on the road, and McGill is also working on a book of poems. “I’m in the processes of editing this poetry collection,” he said. “That’s why I’m up in Michigan, I’m continuing on with the editing and I just printed the whole thing out and I’m wondering, ‘Where the hell did all of this come from?’ I’ve never done this kind of thing before, so the last year this has taken over a corner, or more, of my life.” He added that his poetry has been cathartic for him as the source for his songs, and the source for his poems, he’s found, are not the same. “I’ve found a completely different place that these come from. It’s not even crossing my mind that anything in his book would ever really be a song, and that’s incredibly liberating for me,” he said. “Because, in the past, whenever I wrote anything down I had an eye toward it becoming a song. So it’s freeing for me to figure out that not everything that comes into my mind has to be a song.”
:: Cameron McGill ::
:: Road 34 :: September 12 ::
:: Monolith Woxy.com Stage :: Sept. 13 @ 3:10 ::
:: b.side Lounge :: September 15 ::
:: Walnut Room :: September 18 ::
Recommended if you like:
• Bob Dylan
• Ryan Adams and The Cardinals
• Nick Cave