When the pandemic brought a halt to his touring, Billy McGuigan had plenty of time to think “a lot about life, career, family, love and most importantly truth”. These thoughts unleashed a wave of creativity which had him taking a page out of Paul McCartney’s playbook and create an album where he is virtually the sole creative force (writer, performer, instrumentalist and producer) and the end result is billymcguiganTOGETHER.
This album is a gem. It draws inspiration from so many different sources that I wonder if McGuigan was aware of them all. But a sampling of the sources include rock, country, the Beatles (as well as Paul and John in their solo years), Ben Folds, Buddy Holly, the Eagles and the Beach Boys just to name a few. Add to this McGuigan’s own potent ability as a performer, songwriter, singer and storyteller and you have something that I consider to be genius. And the key that holds it all together is that McGuigan speaks from the heart and that vulnerability is what gives this album its true power.
Each song is elegantly constructed and beautifully layered as McGuigan plays a minimum of 19 different instruments over the course of the album and even learned bass and drums to build his songs. Listening to this album was like watching a fantastic play. It’s serious where it should be. Funny where it needs to be. Hard hitting where it’s gotta be and just plain fun. McGuigan’s songs will definitely evoke memories of your own life and help you make a real connection with these numbers.
Truthfully, there isn’t a weak number on the album, but some real standouts include the album’s emotional opener, “After All”, a tribute to McGuigan’s father, Bill; “Baby, Wont You Leave Me” which tells the true story of a man begging his girlfriend to leave because she keeps breaking his heart; the touching “For You, Too” which sounds like and may very well be a loving tribute to McGuigan’s children; the sweet “Little Metal Shed” which is a love song dedicated to McGuigan’s girlfriend; the humorous “This Trailer Park Was My Home” where McGuigan reflects on his own childhood and manages to turn the cliches of country music on their head at the same time; his Buddy Holly tribute “Me and Peggy Sue”; and his “throat scratcher”, “Wait A Bit Longer Now”.
But for me, the real showstopper was “Together”. This song made me physically shudder and nearly pause it. Surprising considering its upbeat nature, but it’s a beautiful song of hope and about sticking together after loved ones have passed on and its refrain of “with a hug and some love” caused me to tear up a bit as it sounds exactly like what a dearly departed friend of mine might have said in life.
billymcguiganTOGETHER is not only a great listen and an emotional roller coaster of an album, it is also, and this is not hyperbole, one of the best albums of which I have had the privilege of listening. You will be doing yourself a true disservice if you don’t give it a chance.
billymcguiganTOGETHER is available now and can be purchased at www.billymcguigan.com.