Country songwriter Brendan McMahon brings melody, story, and a bold edge of rock to the summer season, with this infectious and energising new album As The Road Unfolds.
Loaded with catchy anthems, the project showcases the very best of Brendan’s writing and vocal presence. Jenni J as an opener promises storytelling with scene by scene captivation, balancing a little distortion with some organic banjo or that true creative freedom. It’s an instant uplift, timeless and classic yet fresh in subject and voice, and it kicks off the journey well.
Brendan McMahon as an artist has a unique way with blending a folk and country musicality with a more soft-rock or U2-esque vocal and melodic thread. When I See You Tonight highlights exactly this, creating an acoustic folk realm but layering that vocal story alongside it for a true sense of identity.
As the album continues, the overall concept of this road unfolding is presented consistently – in the form of literal references and images, but also in the form of the intricacies and experiences that made up the venture for our protagonist; this thing we know as life. Back Roads is a fine example, and a personal favourite for its instrumental calm through rising intensity, and the faultless vocal passion and melodic resolve from Brendan.
Other highlights include the breathy and ethereal, deeply calming Ghost of Cusco, featuring Brendan’s voice in a notably intimate, raspy and expressive setting, and the absolute brightness and supreme musicianship of an anthemic Gundry’s Track.
In reality, there are plenty of moments to appreciate, the album is softly eclectic and really well arranged – following the rise and fall of energy and pace from subtle ballad to Americana and back again.
Consider the outright blues-rock swagger, style and personal declaration of Skin & Bone, prompting quick interest in a live show, and then the near-gospel chorus and external perspective and unity of I Feel A Change. Even the subsequent track Just underlines a clear audience awareness, bringing through acoustic softness and longing at just the right time.
The final moments are elevated all the more so, as we engage in the story of President Reynaldo for a third-person topical shift. Then the production sound-play and honky-tonk creative edge of Boo Dower Beddy proves almost unrecognisable and completely unexpected as a closer.
In short, Brendan McMahon makes light work of musically enchanting his listeners, with timeless writing, strong vocals, and accessible topics. He also makes sure to weave in a few artistic twists just for the fun of it, and to further represent the ever-meandering nature of this road as it inevitably unfolds.