Well, call ME irresponsible, but I’m gonna blurt it out like the uninhibited “septic” I am: I absolutely deeply dig Stephen McCarthy’s voice.
I feel lucky to have been born at a time when Elvis, Frank and Brother Ray were all contemporary “pop stars”. It was a time when the public saw that a stage was still a stage and good music was still good music whether it was coming from a theatre on Broadway, the Village Vanguard or the Dew Drop club in New Orleans. If there was a singer on a stage, the only question the audience asked was: Can they sing?
Stephen McCarthy can sing.
By today’s standards, he’s certainly unusual. As we live through this decade of Zeros - talent, originality and passion are replaced by singers who are required by the “star maker machinery” to make a bland generic noise, each sounding more or less identical to any others in their style.
Stephen McCarthy doesn’t play by their rules.
Here’s a guy who is well respected in the theatre world. His tools are an embarrassingly rich baritone set of pipes and a musicality other singers can listen to with a combination of awe and envy. One might logically expect a picture of Stephen in one of those silly long jackets on the cover of an album full of show tunes, or some light classical stuff. Not our Stephen.
He’s made a jazz album of songs he loves aided by one of Britain’s finest jazz pianists and arrangers, Steve Hill, and unlike the many theatrical recording artists who attempt this, McCarthy grooves, swings, swoops, caresses and attacks each song with a profligate use of talents other singers simply can’t approach. Whether it’s a jazz standard or a Beatles tune, Stephen just nails it to the ceiling and lets you lie back and enjoy it.
In terms of today’s blinkered music business run by “bean counters”, should our Stephen have made this record? Well, you might be right to call him irresponsible, but I’m sure glad he did!