Brendan McMahon – About Joe

SOUNDCLOUD: https://soundcloud.com/brendanj-2/sets/about-joe

The five song EP release About Joe from singer/songwriter Brendan McMahon is another stellar addition to the Australian native’s growing discography. McMahon began his solo career in 2013 and this fourth studio release shows that his development as a songwriter proceeds without interruption. “Home”, the EP’s first cut, has a variety of elements making it an excellent selection for the beginning of About Joe and never comes off like a creative mishmash despite moving from choir vocals, into acoustic singer/songwriter styled work, and the adult rock polish of the remainder. The electric guitar playing, in particular, stands out thanks to how well McMahon brings those qualities together. It’s especially eloquent work, laced with nuance, and the production captures it with great fidelity.

The EP’s second track “Gentlemen Joe” is obviously the centerpiece of the release.  It may seem exorbitant for a release like this, but McMahon makes it work for listeners by giving us a rich, colorful musical arrangement that’s quite coherent but never settles for long on a single path and top notch writing that conveys McMahon’s narrative with great skill. The fretwork, once again, distinguishes itself as a key element of the song’s excellence. McMahon, as always, has surrounded himself with a cadre of talented collaborators to help bring this EP release off and they share one attribute, if no others – a desire to serve the song first and foremost. The EP’s third song “Fall Down” is a more conventional tune that seems ready for radio from the first, especially thanks to its insistent pace and highly charged guitar work.

“Alive”, the EP’s fourth song, is another winner and it’s a well rounded achievement. It’s one of McMahon’s more personal tunes on the release and that’s reflected in one of his superior vocal performances sweeping over listeners with every bit of the same energy we hear from the musical output. The guitars on “Alive” are a good match for McMahon’s voice and aim for the same heights. McMahon closes About Joe with “Doctor”, different from any of the EP’s earlier tunes, but just as successful and an excellent ending number. There’s a gritty and foreboding flavor to this cut that separates it from the earlier songs as well, but the guitar work and vocals are as fine as ever and even reach a climatic tone befitting the track’s position on this release. Brendan McMahon’s About Joe stands out in a crowded field of similar artists and the crucial difference, in the end, is talent and a vision for his music.

Michael Rand

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