May/June 1997 Issue
Switchback: "Check on Out"
by Donna Eckberg
Switchback is coming to our town just before Memorial Day Weekend. This duo creates a high-energy, percussive style of music. Marty McCormack's vibrant Irish tenor and bass guitar combined with Brian Fitzgerald's rhythmic guitar and mandolin equals a sum greater than its parts. The results are lively original songs blending celtic, jazz and blues with poetic lyrics. Their harmonies are striking and bring to mind other brotherly duos. These two are electrically charged and use dance boards during live performances for rhythmic backing. It's difficult to sit still in their presence.
The two instrumental tunes on this CD show off Fitzgerald's prowess on the mandolin. "It's Raining" is backed by the sound of rain falling, which is also imitated by the staccato mandolin notes. "Amadeus" is a delicate but lively tune with a classical flair.
The mood swings to a hot Blues attitude with "Dead Canary," which describes the popular theme of love gone bad. Great metaphor abounds as McCormack sings:
We bicker, grumble, feel the rumble. The canary is dead. Looks like we're through.
This poetic songwriting permeates each song. An ominous tone accompanies "Stranded, Ragged and Poor." We are all too familiar with the happenings here each spring:
Mississippi river makes you humble, say the old valley folk. You build your house and watch it crumble, stranded ragged and poor. If you build on the river, plan to build some more. Muddy waters will deliver, when the rain pours.
It is captivating to have this great songwriting backed by so much emotion. An audience favorite is "Mean Stepsister." Sung in a low, evil growl, it speaks of the dark side of human nature.
Reference is made to Cinderella's plight, admitting:
There's a mean stepsister in me.
The tone usually brings giggles from the audience in spite of the message about ourselves. Denial? (Not me!)
Hot guitar licks abound with the title cut, "Check on Out." You feel the frenzy and frustration of someone who needs to escape a boring lifestyle and a menial job. You can feel the need to flee, as the adrenaline builds for flight to better fortune.
You can "check this out" when Switchback comes to town this Spring. For details call the Donna line during the week of May 19, at 776-3655 (disconnected 3/2001) and tap 3-2, or write Switchback, PO Box 245, Oak Park, IL 60303.