Brodelnd intensiv durchmisst der in London lebende Ire Sünde, Rettung, Himmel, Hölle und nächtliche Albträume - das Leben eben. Die dunklen Seiten von Folk und Country sind präsent, auch morbider Groove aus den Sümpfen des Mississippi-Deltas, Gospel und Acoustic Blues. Sheehy darauf zu reduzieren, wäre jedoch falsch. Nicht umsonst wird seinem explosiven, faszinierenden und ideenreichen Folk Noir-Potpourri – live im Sextett mit The Hired Mourners – nachgesagt, Spuren von Elvis, Mark Lanegan, Dr. John oder Leonard Cohen aufzuweisen. Musikalität und würdevoller Umgang mit stilvollen Versatzstücken finden Platz in einer atmosphärischen Tiefe, wie sie wohl nur aus starkem Schuldbewusstsein erwachsen kann. Sheehy "verharrt jedoch nicht in der Pose des Schmerzensmannes", sondern würzt seine lebensgebeutelten, lakonischen Betrachtungen mit subtilem Humor, der die Grenze zum Sarkasmus freudvoll überschreitet.
"With These Hands. The Rise And Fall Of Francis Delaney" - ein Konzeptalbum. Es geht ums Boxen. Und damit um die Themen, die im Sheehy’schen Kosmos ohnehin stets präsent sind: KampfHimmelHölleSündeSühneWürde. Selten hingegen: Vergebung. Eine Tour de force durch menschliche Abgründe. Sheehy ist ein Getriebener, der auch musikalisch bissiger, schartiger, abgewetzter agiert als zuvor, der in vielerlei Hinsicht in einer eigenen Liga spielt. Der Songzyklus erzählt die Geschichte des fiktiven Preisboxers Francis Delaney. "Diese Songs wurden für ein Musical geschrieben, das in den frühen 1960er Jahren spielt, und die Boxpromoter sind die wirklichen Verbrecher", sagt Sheehy. Ein vielfältiger Mix aus Gothic-Swamp, Vaudeville, Blues und Folk. Sheehy schreckt auch nicht davor zurück, einige der anstössigen Aspekte des Kampfsports aufzugreifen, wie etwa Rassismus und Homophobie.
Jesus, Elvis and Me (a short autobiography by Michael J. Sheehy)
I will never forget those pictures that hung from the walls of the various places I lived as a child. A Sacred Heart of Jesus; you know the ones with a red light bulb on a little ledge just beneath the picture of Our Lord baring His burning heart for all to see and the other was a huge framed photo of Elvis circa 1974 resplendent in a white rhinestone encrusted jumpsuit slashed to the midriff, guitar slung about his hips, jet-black hair, bronze skin, a little overweight but not yet the bloated grotesque he would soon become. In our home Jesus was God; but Elvis wasn't far behind.
My father is an Elvis fanatic who as a seven-year-old Irish boy in 1957 hustled his way into a cinema to see Jailhouse Rock and was hooked. His love of all things Elvis rubbed off on his children, my brother Larry and I would grease up our hair, tape a hairbrush to a broomstick then rock out like little muthas, much to our parent's amusement. I was more than a little jealous of my brother as he had straight thick hair while mine was kinky almost Afro-like hair. It doesn't matter anymore; these days we are both bald. A defining moment during my childhood occurred one Sunday evening at my grandmother's house. It was approaching six in the evening and it was time to leave for church, the BBC were showing the Elvis movie Loving You from 1957 and Jesus just couldn't compete, I didn't want to go to the god damned church! 'Who do you prefer?' my grandmother asked 'Elvis or Holy God?' 'Elvis' I said, anticipating my grandma's disgust. To church I went despite my protestations.
At five years old I was beginning to show a little artistic flair so my teacher got me to depict the Sorrowful Mysteries of The Rosary to be displayed in the church during Easter week. I took to the task with relish; I particularly enjoyed drawing The Scourging At The Pillar and The Crucifixion; the blood, the whip, the nails, the crown of thorns and the foreboding black sky over Golgotha; the suffering of Jesus really inspired me. I was working from my imagination and what I'd seen in the epic TV series Jesus Of Nazareth starring Robert Powell. I believe this is when I started developing a messiah complex. Soon followed my first Holy Confession, then first Holy Communion, then I became an alter boy. Where would it all end? Luckily I didn't get molested.
Shortly after I turned sixteen a very creepy priest encouraged me to go to Lourdes (place of miraculous healings at the foot of the French Pyrenees where The Blessed Virgin appeared to a peasant girl named Bernadette) to chaperone disabled children. Unfathomably I would make eight pilgrimages there over the next five years and I began singing in the church choir encouraged and inspired by the parish priest Father Pat Brown who had one of the greatest tenor voices I have ever heard. I met Mother Teresa and sang for her when she visited our church; she gave me a Missionaries of Charity medal (she was handing them out like lollipops) that I wore around my neck for a year or so. The first time I gave a girl oral pleasure, the medal kept getting in the way. Maybe it was God's way of letting me know I shouldn't have been eating pussy outside of Holy wedlock. Somewhere along the line I lost the medal and sold my soul to sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. I was around twenty-one years old when my faith deserted me; but the guilt remained. To hide the black stain and alleviate the self-loathing, I took to drinking heavily, taking any drug I could get my hands on and trying to fuck anything that moved. I quickly realized I had failed miserably in my quest to be Christ-like so I thought I'd have a crack at being Elvis for a while; naturally this didn't work out too well either so I took to rock 'n' roll with a religious fervor and in 1995 I formed the band Dream City Film Club. We signed to Beggars Banquet in 1996 and made some records. Sometime during 1999 the group imploded in a hail of fists and forked tongues. My hair began falling out so I continued making records as a bald solo artiste mainly because I had no idea how to do anything else. My last album was five years ago so I thought it was about time to make another one. Nothing much happened in those five years except I got a little fatter and grew a big old beard. – Michael J. Sheehy, January 2007