Who would doubt that Michael McDonald could still sound groovy and relevant while ushering the musical feel of 1978 into 2017? Only a fool.
Within seconds of the opening "oohs" and warm, groovy vibes of McDonald's new song, "Find It In Your Heart," your heart will be overjoyed. The opening notes call up immediate memories of some of his much-beloved Doobie Brothers classics, like "What A Fool Believes" and "Takin' It To The Streets," as well as some of of his incredible harmony singing with Steely Dan on "Peg" and "Bad Sneakers."
"Find It In Your Heart" has the all the quintessential ingredients of a McDonald classic: the warm Rhodes, drummer Shannon Forrest's seductive, soulful lock-step playing, Michael Landau's tasty wah-wah guitar licks and George Benson-esque solos, the signature sax solo by Tom Scott — and oh, those sweet, sweet harmonies.
The song also proves that, four decades in, McDonald is still a songwriting sophisticate. Wide Open -- his first new studio album since 2008, out Sept. 15 — sees McDonald putting away the R&B songbook, eschewing the covers of his last few records in favor of all-new, original material. The album includes a who's who of excellent players, including bassists Willie Weeks and Marcus Miller, guitarists Warren Haynes and Robben Ford, saxophonist Branford Marsalis and keyboardist David Paich.
Both old and new generations of Michael McDonald fans recently came together when he collaborated with Kenny Loggins and jazz-funk bassist Thundercat on the sultry "Show You The Way," from Thundercat's album Drunk. An appearance at Coachella likely brought the singer-songwriter to new audiences whose parents were raised on many of those Doobie and Steely Dan hits. But Wide Open may be the album that makes the kids call their folks and say, "Hey, have you heard of this new artist, Michael McDonald?"
Wide Open comes out Sept. 15 via BMG.