05 November 2020

Am I Here Album release - Mike Duncan -- review


After several years, I am glad to be the bearer of great tides—Mike Duncan has released another album!  I have played his Lost For Words album over and over, because it was refreshing, original…and well, great.  But his new one, Am I Here, is even better.  With the passage of time, Duncan has strengthened his gift, his craft, bringing a balanced offering of romantic songs that range from emotional to kicky.  With his unique voice he delivers one powerful performance after another.

He is a true artist, painting on a canvas with masterful strokes, and nowhere is this more evident than in the title track.  I was privileged to hear the original version several years ago, which quickly became my favourite song.  Seriously, if I were marooned on a desert isle and only permitted one song to keep me company it would be Am I here.  It’s a deceptive song that seems to seep into your muscles, your mind, and like a drug alters my mood.  The song works on several levels.  It has a laid back beat that underscores the emotions of a tormented romance; it’s sensual, provocative, it’s painful.  Such deep emotion is threaded throughout the song that is simply haunting.  Since this song came along after the first album, I was dancing with joy when I found it had made the cut this time.

Lost For Words, title track of the last album, is also here, but in a different version.   The original was a ballad, and again such an emotional song.  Anyone in love couldn’t help but be touched with the beauty and power of these lyrics.  Later he recorded another version – a club remix that had a killer beat.  The two versions evoke a remembrance of when Eric Clapton took Layla from solid rock to the laid back acoustical version (which I loved more).  Both stood on their own, drew their own praise.  It was the same with the two cuts of Lost for Words.   The strength of the song is clear in how it’s so amazing in either presentation.   This time, the new production is back to the ballad, but with a broader professional polish.  And again, I am lost to this song.

The most moving song of the group is My X.  A blunt title for a brilliant song.  And again, a song of love.  It is the exposed, raw, pure emotions of a man in love and the love gone sour.  It’s produced to showcase Duncan’s unique voice, and he applies it full force to convey the heartbreak from the true love, of a man fighting for himself and his love, yet senses the hopelessness of it.  You don’t just hear this song, experience it, all the pain regret and anguish, and it plays inside your mind, full of images like the best rock video you ever saw on MTV.  You taste the sheer agony, the desperation, the images of lovers coming together, yet being torn apart, and the overpowering fatal enormity of not understanding why the love cannot work.  Incisively produced, the song packs a wallop.

My second favourite song of all time is also included on the album.  Yes, it’s that good.  Oceans of Time is a dreamy, almost mystic version of love, of need.  Instead of being a song of pain and regret like My X, this is a fantasy.  The man senses a deeper love is out there, he can sense her waiting, and the power that will drive him to fight to find her.  It’s the best side of love, the desire, the full knowledge that someone waits for you, and there is no obstacle that will prevent you from finding her.  Duncan’s voice is never more perfect than in delivering this emotional song.  He hits the notes on all levels.

Also included is a cover of I’m On Fire.  Okay, how dare he cover one of the Boss’ biggest hits?  He dares with his own performance that almost rivals Springsteen.  I know I will get boos and hisses for that statement, but sorry, it’s true.  Upfront, I am a music junkie—I have been rocking in the free world for too many decades.  I love everything from Dmitri Shostakovich’s The Second Waltz to the Kinks’ Well Respected Man, The Brothers Four,  Justin Haywood, Sam the Sham,— lol— John Melancamp, Bon Jovi and everything between.  I love music so much from all eras, that a friend once asked me if I had ever been a disk jockey!    Truly good music is a drug to me.  It can totally alter my mood.  When it works that magic I know it’s good.  I say love a song, love every note, every change in pitch, to the point I basically hate covers.  They just leave me flat.  No one can match or improve on the brilliance of the original, often not even the performer himself.  One of the best is Bon Jovi—his studio tracks are never as good as his live performances.  Duncan is one of the few exceptions to that no cover rule for me.  In I’m On Fire he pays nodding homage to the untouchable talent of Springsteen, yet as I listen to the song, I began to forget the original and it feels new.  Duncan’s version begins to eclipse Springsteen’s version in my mind.  Very hard to do.

The up tempo Everything Is Good makes me want to get up and dance.  The happiness it generates is infectious.  Once again, the song underscores a romance, but a more positive one this go around.  Wonderland (not the Taylor Swift song) it an opening gambit of a romance.  It’s challenging, provoking, pushing the limits of love. The power and force of Duncan’s voice demonstrating his masterful range.  Love You Even More is a mellow enticement to love, with a Michel Bublé style, but, in truth, Duncan’s voice is just a bit sharper, more unique than Bublé.  I have heard him cover Bublé and liked his version better.  It’s Bublé class, but with a raw, edge that makes Duncan special.

Please Love Me is another rock tempo well suit to Duncan’s range.  I recall Sinatra talking about it wasn’t just singing a song, but how you phrased the lyrics. Fiction writing (my area) and song writing has much in common.  Both are another form of poetry, and in both, phasing is so important.  It’s not just the words, it’s the syntax, the flow, the meter and the sound that rolls over you and works magic.  Duncan’s quiet genius is he truly gets that.  The album rounds out with You, a mellow song that strikes a subtle contrast to the other emotional songs.  A perfect edition to a well-conceived album.

In a day, when music seems angry or edging back toward bubble gum, it’s very satisfying to hear an album that is geared for romance in all its forms.  A pleasure from start to finish.  Don’t accuse me of gushing over this album.  Not one word is unearned.  I am just sorry the world hasn’t made the same discovery of Mike Duncan as I have.  If there is one word of criticism—I would have liked to have the original of Am I Here included in the album, since I love both versions!

—Deborah Macgillivray, Internationally Publishing author, and unabashed music junkie.

25 October 2020

Remembering Morgan Galloway on the 70th anniversary of his death


70 years ago actor Morgan Galloway died in La Grange, Ky.  His car was stopped on the trail tracks and the train hit him.  He was only 42 years old.  Such a senseless death.

10 September 2020

Goodbye, Mrs. Peel


When one gets to a certain age, you start watching your childhood heroes die.  One by one.  The passing of Diana Rigg hurts more than most.  At a time a little girl was expected to be a housewife, a nurse or secretary, Emma Peel came onto the scene of The Avengers, filling the roll Honor Blackman held before her as John Steed’s partner, his equal.

 She gave little girls a role model that wasn’t the stereotypical female of the 1960s.  She drove fast sports cars, could take care of herself, was talented, smart, a British agent…savvy, beautiful and able to fight like a man.  She made a young girl realize there was an independence out there…
if only you have her daring.  

 And did I mention she wore leather jumpsuits?  WOW.  Her saucy, slightly arrogant attitude saw her through many a situation.  I loved her dearly.  I wanted to be her.  So, this one hurts.

01 September 2020

honoring the anniversary of Morgan Galloway's birth

I went to place flowers on Morgan Galloway's grave today. It was odd experience, in someways a distant one since he died before I was born. Only my mum knew and cared for him. I had known about him, how handsome he was my whole life. That he died tragically when he was only 41 years old. This year will mark the 70th year of his death. So tragic that he died at that age. I was surprised to discover he died and was buried just blocks from where I now live. I had a feeling mum would like if I placed flowers on his grave. I took the flowers, a small arrangement I made, not sure how I would feel. I think mum would approved of me honoring him. She always went my grandfather's grave and put flowers there, when the rest of the family hadn't been there is 50 years. I am glad I went. No one else did. There were no flowers on the family headstone. None at the graves of his mother, father, son or his second wife. The stones are showing age as no one comes to scrub them clear. No one cares. It made me wonder if anyone would place flowers on my grave in 70 years. So melancholy was the prevalent air. Yet, I am glad I went and honored him on his birthday.

23 August 2020

Book review: A Cat in Jackboots by Deborah Macgillivray


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He is a hunter...despite being a scion of one of the most respected families of the ton, he enjoys solving the mysteries that life presents...at a price. And he is hot on the trail of a burglar robbing the titled members of London society.

She is saddled with a scatterbrained, matchmaking Grandmother and a retired battman for a butler...and a black cat named Romeo...and carries a world of secrets. One slip and it will cost her everything.

Neither is seeking romance...only sometimes love happens when you least expect it....

My review:

(just gotta throw in here.... doesn't that blurb just give you the feel-good anticipation shivers?  Gotta say, it totally delivered and then some!)

Mighty stories can be found in small packages, and A Cat in Jackboots is a perfect example of this!  If you want a shorter story you can absorb in one setting, but yet close the last page feeling like you're walking away from a full-length story that lingers, this is one to pick up!

I adored everything about this story - from the bit of intrigue and the games played, to from the sparks that flew and the surprises that had perfect timing, to the laughter and the happy sighs, they all weaved together into a delightfully easy and engrossing story - which is just perfect for life lately.  

It's been a long, long time since I've read a regency-era story, and just like with her medieval tales, Deborah Macgillivray delivered an amazing story that I fell hard into and didn't want to leave.  

Purchase link:

21 July 2020

an echo from the past....

Sunday was the anniversary of my mum's birthday. 
Since I lost all my photos in the house fire, I was only a few pictures of her to cherish.
A cousin posted them one.  I had never seen it before.  It was a picture of her with me, and being photobombed by gran.  Three generations all in one shot.  Take in 1987, this was six months before she died a liver cancer.  Take at my second cousin, once removed - Dee Dee's wedding.

So it was so wonderful to find this picture taken what seems like yesterday, yet so many years ago.

There is a day that passes I don't miss her.

01 May 2020

Happy May Day!!

Hoping you are stay safe at home.  The day was beautiful, a fitting welcome to the first day of May.

09 April 2020

A writer's life during Covid 19

How are you doing during this social distancing?  I am doing fine, but then I was ahead of the curve.  I have been wearing a mask since October 2018, when my husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer.  After his death, I stopped wearing them last summer, but again masks would come into my life.  I went back to them in October 2019 because I was going to have surgery on my jaw to remove a ameloblastoma.  I got a really nifty one, washable and with filters, that makes me look like Winter Solider...lol.  No one says we cannot deal with such things in style.

I was surprised, however, how people react to others wearing masks.  I recall sitting in waiting room with my husband, and there were about a dozen people sitting, waiting, too.  They sneered or chuckled at hubby and me for sitting there in our masks.  UNTIL...after about 10 minutes, one of the orderlies wheeled out an elderly man and "parked" him until his ride could come get him.  A few minutes later, he started coughing and gagging, then finally he spewed vomit about four foot away.  It reminded me of Baron Afanas in What We Do In The Shadows 

What We Do in the Shadows" Baron's Night Out (TV Episode 2019) - IMDb

after he ate a Pizza Pie full of garlic.  People close to the man literally jumped in the air, dance along the backs of the sofas to get away from him.  They glanced over at us still across the room with our masks, and suddenly, they GOT IT.

Another instance was in a store just as the virus was starting to hit.  Candy Thompson and I were out shopping.  I gave her a Winter Soldier mask, too.  She has heart problems, asthma and is in the target range of most vulnerable.  So this young man was checking out in front of us.  He gets a cause of the sniggers over our masks.  He even leaned to the cashier and said, "Some people are taking this virus thing to the extreme."  She knew I heard, so she blushed, but she giggled and agreed with the guy.  Well, enough is enough!  I learned toward them and said, "I am not protecting me--I am protecting YOU."  Then I managed a really good hacking cough.  Suddenly, they lost the snide comments and looked like they wanted to jump up on the conveyor belts.  I had a feeling they had a new view on face masks!

As to the social distancing, I live alone since my husband passed last year.  Candy lives alone.  We get our groceries through Walmart Pickup.  They put them in the car for us.  We wear our masks and when handling the groceries we wear disposable gloves, then wash hands.  We are both rather isolated.  Neither of us will see other people.  I go over and help her take out her trash, feed her a lunch to make sure she is eating well.  Not very hard to do at all.

As a writer, I am conditioned to be alone for long stretches of time.  NANO is having their Camp Nano...so I am pushing to write 50,000 words this month.  Perfect timing.

So I am doing okay.  Please stay safe.  You have computers, phone and television to entertain you.  And don't forget the books.  You could escape to go visit my Montgomerie Sisters, or go back in time with the Ogilvie Women and the Men of Challan.  They would appreciate the company.

Cats Sleeping Hilarious 50+ Ideas #cats

28 March 2020

Remembering the Anniversary of the birthday of Dawn Thompson


portrait done from Dawn's last photo

We were so close, it's hard to think we never actually met.  Dawn Thompson breezed into my life, the belle of the ball - or so everyone thought.  Despite losing her eleven years ago, she lingers, still very much alive in my thoughts. 

And she gave me her sister Candy to watch over, to be my pal and constant companion.  I am facing losing another person dear to me--my husband--and Candy is right there at my elbow, giving me strength and support.

There is so much of Dawn in her novels.  I have discussed this with Candy--was she aware of how much of her was the fabric of her tales?  We both agree Dawn was totally unaware of these elements.  I recall our shared editor, Hilary Sares, saying she cried when she read the scene of the trees that were alive in Lord of the Deep.  A tree that ached to be a part of life, but with limbs rooted to the ground.  Or the angel in Lord of the Dark -- a poor thing couldn't sleep because his wings wouldn't retract.  Again, only to someone who knew Dawn closely would that make sense.  Dawn had the hardest time getting into bed every night, hard time sleeping because of the legs that no longer worked, the pain that dogged her every moment.

Dawn's high school graduation picture
Dawn's high school portrait

Never have I known someone so valiant in the face of adversity, never have I heard someone laugh at all that life flung at her.

I miss you, Dawn Thompson, but you “gave” me your sister.  Your last words to me was "Do not forget me."  How could I ever forget such a bright light in this sad sorry world?

Happy Birthday, special lady.









Coming Soon for her fans