Review Summary: “How am I simultaneously on top of someone’s pedestal and also underneath someone else’s shoe?”
Angie McMahon has had a busy 2 years. In 2017 she released ‘Slow Mover’ an overwhelmingly well received single, shimmering with maturity and attentive song writing. Over the next 24 months, McMahon slowly filtered out similarly well-constructed singles in, ‘Missing Me’, ‘Keeping Time’ and ‘Pasta’ in a measured build up to release of her debut LP, Salt
. On release, McMahon has regenerated herself, blooming beauty from a seemingly disruptive and chaotic past.
McMahon’s song writing formula is built around her voice. Her deep, raspy vibrato and pulsating falsetto are really the showcase. From raw straining power to whimpers and whispers, McMahon manages to show great control in varying the dynamics and emotive display of her vocals when a song demands it. On ‘Soon’ her voice weaves fluently in and out of a floating falsetto while ‘Missing Me’ sees McMahon strain and bend powerfully through her full range. The musicality supporting her vocals is a steep contrast, purportedly trying not to get in the way of her vocals and lyrical wit. McMahon’s guitar playing is simple and attends to the songs amicably, while some of the punchier songs build nicely with the help of a full band supporting, helping with the build and release of the tension McMahon can create with her vocal runs.
shows McMahon is uncertain about her place in the world and trying to find her feet. Lyrically, she is aware of this and riddles each song with turbulence and vulnerability that feels just too damn relatable. Each song is an introspective flag for McMahon to return to at a later time in her life, as she allows the listener to pry into her soul, spreading stories of heartbreak, gluten allergy, gender equality and not/coping while being overwhelmed. On ‘Keeping Time’ she sings; “All the ways we can bruise are of use to us/ All the things I have burnt, I have learnt their cost/ And oh there’s cracks in me/ Oh the cracks in me.” This is almost an affirmation of growth for McMahon as she sees self-worth and learning in her cracks, a time stamp on an important part of her life, and a chance to reflect on wounds that have healed. While ‘Slow Mover’ encapsulates in decision and tension;
“There's someone else but I twist all of
His words and he twists mine
So I'll have to let him go
We sometimes fit, but we always lie
And he thinks we could make it work
But only when he's drunk
You think you could help me swim
But I've already sunk”
McMahon floats between folk, blues and indie rock on Salt
, driven by the power of her voice and demanding lyrics. She has self-analysed herself and laid it out, bare the listener to digest and decipher how they can relate to the vulnerability on offer. Salt
is an album that rewards further listens, although at times can drag, particularly in the back half. Though the power and raw emotion found in Angie McMahon’s voice will keep you grounded and coming back for more.
Recommended Tracks: Pasta, Slow Mover, Missing Me, Keeping Time, Soon