Picks and Pans Review: Blue Obsession
Here, bobbing in the wake of Steely Dan's unexpected return to the Top 10, is another stalwart of the me decade with surprising buoyancy. A former Steely backup singer who came into his own in the '70s by leavening the Doobie Brothers' rock guitar attack with his bluesy vocals and piano playing, McDonald has not been heard from since his 1993 solo album, Blink of an Eye. Now he's back with the sort of mid-tempo, blue-eyed R&B ballads that made the St. Louis native the heartland's answer to Van Morrison. As a lyricist, McDonald tends to keep hoeing the same row. "Like a river runnin' to the sea," he sings in the non sequitur-filled "All I Need," "there must be a reason for all these shattered dreams." Entire songs can pass without old McDonald unearthing a single non-cliché image. But this is a fellow who could sing the tally of Census 2000 and make it sound good. And thanks to covers of Neil Young's "Down by the River" and Marvin Gaye's "Ain't That Peculiar," he doesn't have to.
Bottom Line: Groovy Doobie