Brendan McMahon strikes from the heart with this latest EP entitled About Joe. Songs written from the perspective of a traveler, someone slowly learning the ways of the world, the reality that stands in stark contrast with what we’re often led to believe from afar. Home is the opening song and lays the foundation well, a rich and warm display of organic musicianship supports a simple, comforting melody and concept. The song makes sense as a personal introduction to the collection, but also as a go-to moment of understanding for anyone who feels perhaps a little too far from home.
Gentleman Joe kicks off the intricate story-telling, each line offers a new detail – who is this character, what does he represent, what am I learning from this? The song builds up softly towards a mighty, satisfying hook section that resolves and offers a sense of hope and possibility. As you progress through the song, the pre-chorus really comes through with something of an anthemic moment – a pathway to the climactic one that follows, a mass feeling of togetherness and the sort of musical peak that would draw an audience’s voices together beautifully. This continues towards the end of the song, a huge outro showcases the absolute passion of the artist and the strength of gorgeously composed, uplifting musicality.
The mood feels a little lighter for the song Fall Down, short snippets of melody offer up a joyful and rhythmic introduction to a song that unfolds like any classic pop-rock single should. Keeping it simple is the key here, each guitar riff seems all at once minimalist and effective – it does exactly what you need it to, it adds to the soundscape and brightens up the song in a familiar and enjoyable way.
Alive sees things grow immensely, the instrumentation bursts into life from the offset, a massive meeting of elements supports and enhances a poetic and reflective song that again utilises short snippets of melody to lead you confidently towards a powerful and memorable hook section. If the opposite of alive is the stillness, the quiet, the nothingness – this song is the perfect representation of its concept, offering movement, vibrancy, volume, colour, chaos, and all kinds of wonderful.
The final song on this project is the somewhat dark and deeply thoughtful Doctor. The mood is different here to elsewhere on the EP, McMahon’s vocal delivery is different – his tone and presentation come through almost like a whisper. Lyrically the artist addresses a significant other, or the personification of a specific concept, and this too helps create a completely unexpected aura. Musically as well, the track is intense and quite heavy, there’s a sense of increasing drama, and as the soundscape builds the words start to sink in more and more. The second time you listen the ideas really start to provoke thought.
This song makes for a great way to finish, in my opinion – it highlights a different side to the songwriter, a different set of abilities and modes of expression, a somewhat rock-inspired exploration of audio and story-telling. A superb guitar solo tops it all off awesomely. The rising passion in the instrumentation and in the leading artist’s vocal performance is mesmerising. A huge finale for a fantastic and considerate EP.