Kevin McCarthy
"Anchors Away"

(County Cork Music Ltd 2003)Kevin McCarthy - Anchors Away

On "Anchors Away," Kevin McCarthy's album of eight songs, there are a number of different musical styles. But never does McCarthy stray too far from his base, instead the changes in style are, in the end, minor and they only help to make "Anchors Away" an easy and fun listen that is over too soon.

McCarthy offers his best lounge jazz on opener "Anxious," a likable and smooth mid-tempo stroll. Using a more intense guitar aspect and picking up the pace, "Rest Area" changes to a less jazzy and more of a pop sound before the album's title track slows to a poppy folk sound where McCarthy uses breaking vocals to add emotion and variance. From the casual beginning to the laid-back clinking percussion, you could almost see McCarthy and his band performing "14 For Life" on a street corner somewhere before they take a moment for the soft and melodic ballad "Fate."

It is on the more rock sounding "Get Free" and "Suburban Blues" where McCarthy could gain attention as an alternative to Ryan Adams and similar musicians. The attention is definitely focused on McCarthy as his plea for peace, "Get Free," includes a limited electric guitar solo while "Suburban Blues" relies partly on slide guitar for its rollicking atmosphere. "Grandpa's Remedy," an unhurried and simple finger picking acoustic guitar song, stands out from other songs on the album by trying in earnest to tell a story.

"Anchors Away" is short and to the point. McCarthy does not dwell or focus too long on any song. If anything a majority of the songs could have been longer -- with additional lyrics, of course, as many of the songs already have just enough repetition that you do not really notice on the first few listens. Palatable without being overly sugary, "Anchors Away" offers a focused sound that is amiable.

B-