The opening and title track alone to this EP from Texas based trio Drive On Mak is enough to have you hooked. The music has a notably raw and pure sound to it, instrumentally live sounding, far from the over-polished finish of modern pop; refreshingly real to witness. On top of this, the melodies, the riffs, the lightness of it all – this full band sound somehow comes through with a warmth and delicacy, seeming all at once intimate and immense. Then of course there’s the leading voice, and it’s a beauty. As skilled as one may be at writing songs or playing guitar or driving a rhythm, it always makes a world of difference when there’s something special in the singing voice. It’s part of our humanness to be drawn to the gravel and soul of certain vocal tones. From the very first moments, Drive On Mak hold the key to your adoration.
Comin’ For You is a fantastic follow up to the opener. The rhythm and swagger of it is infectious, that voice again with such character and depth, and the lyrics – sensational lyrics, captivating at every step, surrounding you with imagery and ideas and energy. Kiss Thy Hand varies distinctly in mood and concept, though the poetry remains and is ever present throughout this project. The stories that unfold have depth and are compelling to witness, the subtle warmth of the music laying out a comfortable foundation within which you can sit back and offer up your full attention, and that voice – presenting everything with genuine emotion and seemingly effortless appeal.
Outlaw brings the energy sky high. A manic drum line, an indie-rock infused guitar riff, a punk-rocked soaked leading melody and vocal performance that again utilises these short snippets of lyrics in between the chaos of the music. It’s a common trait of the band’s songwriting, everything working in unison at each musical moment – the audio falls away for the lyrics, the lyrics fall away to return the favour, the energy rising and falling intermittently; taking full advantage of the effectiveness of contrast.
Things settle down again for Player. The guitar is stripped back, the bass steps forwards, there’s a freestyle feeling to it all that again underlines that purity, that creatively free expression, that unity and togetherness between band members. This song is fascinating, hypnotic as always – the story, the voice, almost whispering to you, the street-light soul or jazz of the instrumentation. The whole thing has a classic feel to it, and the lyrics are once again superb. The entire project deserves way more than a single listen. These songs are incredibly unique among their current peers.
A certain Dylan-esque joyfulness comes through for When I’m Gone – the harmonica, the shuffle of the beat, the single vocal joined at the end of each line by its equally gentle and carefree counterpart. The lyrics here are superb, every line an absolute winner. The music has a mild familiarity to it, which brings a touch of nostalgia, but so much else here is fresh and exciting and free from the direct influence of the musical mainstream. Listening to this EP is like stumbling upon a hidden treasure, a well kept secret – unspoiled by external influences and free from concerns or rules. Even the 30 second snippet at the end of it all entitled Bonus Track, as bizarre and unpredictable or unfinished as it may seem, appears as a perfectly acceptable way to leave things. A definite must. Listen in full.