What happens when you combine a talented Australian singer with a combination of musical genres that include country, folk, rock, pop, blues, and even some Celtic sounds? You get some unique music that is sure to please any musical palette. You may even think that such a person doesn’t exist, or couldn’t exist. Or that such combinations of music just wouldn’t be right. You’d be wrong, and it does exist in Melbourne’s Brendan McMahon.
'Universalist,' the new EP from McMahon, gives you a taste of the singer/songwriters music talents with songs that span genres. You’ll be as amazed as I was at the turn of each song. The best one, though, is the very first track.
“Marker 7-58” has an interesting story behind it, according to the press release for this five-song EP, this song was inspired by a trail marker the singer spotted while hiking. As someone that enjoys a good hike in the woods, that may be one of the things that attracted me to this song. It’s also a very Celtic sounding tune, which could be another reason it’s my favorite. And, the interesting sounds of Morse code that start the song and emit throughout from time to time also give it an interesting flair.
While that first track is by far my favorite, it’s hard not to love every song in this collection. “Hotel Hemingway” is an extremely interesting song. McMahon’s vocals are beautiful on this track. “Tell me all the dreams you left behind” is still my favorite line in this song, maybe because it appeals to me as a dreamer. The song also mentions an old typewriter, it’s about stories… what is there not to love by a writer? There is also a piano solo in this one that is pretty amazing.
“Fridays In December” opens with an interesting intro that sounds almost like something from the 80s, with synth-laced vocal distortion, but it leads into a song that has nothing 80s or synth about it. It’s a song about the past, the simpleness of life when you’re young. It’s a delightful song that will have you feeling nostalgic.
“Mother” is a beautiful tribute to mothers everywhere. This would be the perfect song to play for your mom on Mother’s Day or her birthday, or any day. It’s a reminder of everything our mothers do for us. The love, the giving of hope, the warmth… this song even has a warm feeling to it with the delicate rhythm of the piano backing up the vocals.
The final song on this EP is “Beat,” which is a great bluesy, funk, and rock sounding song that just puts you in a groove from the first note. While the rest of this album is calm and subdued, this song kicks things up a notch and will have you moving to the beat (maybe that was the point). I like that in this song you get a feel of McMahon’s rocker abilities, and I have to say that I’m impressed.
There’s a lot going on in these five songs, and this EP really shows the range of music this musician can make. He sounds good whether he’s making a Celtic folk melody or a straight up bluesy rock song. He sounds good when he’s singing a tribute to his mother that is so warm and heartfelt that it will make you melt, and just as good when singing about childhood memories about December and Christmas.
There’s a little something for everyone on this EP. If you like Celtic music, you must listen to that first track. If funk and blues are your things, give “Beat” a try. If you just want to hear some great singer/songwriter tunes that tell a story, listen to the middle three songs. Learn more about this talented musician at his website.