There is hope. Well, maybe “hope” is a strong word as Michaeal Dean Damron doesn't expect to win, he's just unable to give up, like an old man perched on a cliff, staring up at the wall of water about to crush him, howling “Fuck you! You never got me down!” If Mike isn't hope, at least he is a grimy speck of reality. One forearm bears a hideous homemade tattoo of a sickly dolphin leaping out of cartoony waves done by a drug buddy with a guitar string after a days-long meth bender. There's a knot of scar tissue between the thumb and forefinger on his right hand where he bites the skin when he's worried (he worries a lot). It's been a long time since he was a boxer in the Army's 101st Airborne Division. The years on the road have taken their toll-- skin yellowed from the Camels and PBR, bags under his eyes that will never go away. But for as long as he's been out of the gym, his shoulders are still bigger than most mens' thighs. Mike is not a guy you want to piss off. And on Mayberry, he's in his pissed-off prime.
In a life that's mostly just big mistakes, Mike's biggest mistake was ditching the best band he'd ever played with, I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House. Thank God the boys took him back because together, they've turned out their best record to date. There's been no shortage of fury or despair on past SOB records but, well, let's just say the old SOB had better things to spend their money on than a decent recording studio. But guitars sparkle, harmonica wails and the drums wallop on Mayberry like never before. The title track-- a paen to an imagined past-- is hardly uplifting. He's hopelessly outnumbered, by cowardly absent fathers, by a church built on fear, by a culture of violence that views war not just as an economic necessity but as a pasttime. Death looms bigger before Mike D. than ever before. You think he's going to give up? He won't because he can't-- it's just not in his blood to surrender.
This record won't fix your life. It won't help you win. It won't get your lover to come back or give you the courage to leave or bring your fool heart whatever it thinks it needs. But Mayberry may make it harder to give up. It may even put a little fight in you. And though that won't give you wings, you may find yourself still standing when everyone else has fallen around you.
I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House isn't a pretty band. Mike D. isn't a hero and he's far from a perfect man. But this is the record and the band and the man you need for the shit times we're in.