Melbourne’s Brendan McMahon leads with a classic folk-rock set-up and heartwarming songwriting on this highly anticipated new album No Rush Today.
To start things up we get a stylish touch of blues rock swagger and personal angst with Taking It Today. Always the songwriter keeps things honest and real. Faultless and natural vocals and superb musicianship bring this to life in the best way. This is also one of a few bold anthems on the album – the sort that beg for you to witness them in a live setting.
Forever the story-teller that modern folk music needs, Brendan McMahon makes sure this album plays out like a series of short films. At the same time, there’s plenty to ponder about life, plenty that invites the listener into a shared state of contemplation, deeper thinking, inspiring energy. Wired To The Moon is a fine example and an easy early highlight. Beautifully crafted – a personal favourite.
In terms of the set-up and pace of each song, this project is decidedly eclectic, yet never so much so that it loses those threads of character and authenticity. With Larry, piano leads us in, and a nearly whispered vocal directs us through the stages of the scene as the soundscape slowly gathers momentum and brightness.
Jack then guides us with the welcoming embrace of organic banjo, drums and guitars, plus that smooth and emotive, classic soft-rock vocal lead that’s subtly recognisable.
Great songwriting, a trait that stands tall throughout McMahon’s collection to date, and the recording quality is beautiful here – the whole arrangment shines brightly, with high energy, multiple layers of colour and optimism, and an addictive set of good vibes that helps the poetic, thoughtful lyrics sink in subconsciously throughout.
In stark contrast, No Yesterdays break hearts and reflects with its minimalist, ballad-like piano setting and lyrical nostalgia. The energy builds and builds, taking that of the listener with it. Then we get the beautiful Sugar Cane Man – a song that feels like a slept-on classic from a simpler time; or the soundtrack to some renowned film.
A welcomed touch of funk kicks in for an aptly titled Groove With Bob, right before a softly finger-picked and romanticised Calling slows things right down – and seeks to connect with those who’ve felt the overwhelming embrace of true love. Arrangement is crucial in keeping an audience’s attention, and this album has it mastered.
Towards the end of the playlist, It’s Not Me proves a slow burner with a bright yet decidedly honest hook. Deception showcases a similarly unexpected build-up from an easy-going verse to a near-falsetto chorus; with some striking acoustic guitar play.
This organic quality continues to pour through for a rhythmically immersive, intimate and revealing Brave – a further chance to connect with the artist on a deeply human level. Then guitar meets piano for an initially melancholic yet profoundly folk-like hit of songwriting that is Last Rodeo. A poignant track, which revels in the celebrations of the past and lays bare the quietude of the present in hindsight. Building up beautifully with consistently rising anticipation – a perfect ending to this album of thoughtful originals.
These are the stories of the artist in recent times, they feel personal and open, yet they keep things just vague enough that listeners can truly fall into the experience and make each song their own – a clever balance to strike. Add in some skilful musicianship, crisp production, and the whole playlist makes for an easy, timeless way to fill the evening air.