ALBUM REVIEW: Angie McMahon – ‘Salt’

Words by Emily Hollitt.

When thinking of Angie McMahon, two words come to mind; intimacy and honesty. And that is exactly the way that ‘Salt’ is introduced, the newest instalment from Australia’s Soccer Mommy equivalent. McMahon’s electric guitar echoes out with her simple chord progression with opening track, Play The Game. The striking timbre of her vocals coo over the top of the gentle guitar as drums are quickly introduced in the chorus. I am already fully engaged. Her voice cracks as she admits “I’m not proud of all the loud things I’ve been saying, I lost my way” and my heart hurts with her. The second time the chorus rolls around her voice grows as she loudly announces her sorrows.

A simple, smooth electric guitar line opens Soon as she takes the same intimate approach. Her voice grows along with the instrumentation as she proclaims, “I’d love to have real love someday”, her timbre juxtaposing the softness of the songs opening, bringing out power and passion behind her voice. Keeping Time follows, a track which McMahon fans would be more than familiar with. The album takes an upbeat turn. Featuring one of my favourite of her lyrics “I want someone who doesn’t mind when I stand, I want someone who’s funny looking when they dance, I want to dance with them, I want to dance with them”. The powerful track is an ode to pushing away her doubts and insecurities and learning to not let those things get in the way of what she wants.

The beloved Slow Mover follows, an upbeat bop with a sly savagery at an almost one-sided relationship. Exemplified by the lines “Maybe we’ll get married, maybe fall in love, but you make me fall asleep, when you’re holding me”. With an upbeat backing track and fast food analogies, McMahon’s song that started it all is the perfect anthem for our loves that don’t quite work. “Loving you is lonely” says McMahon in the slightly angrier Missing Me. “I’m tired of being your sweetheart” with the aggressiveness of lines like this and “You better be missing meAngie masks her sadness with frustration based around a love who is not treating her right.

Push is the most heart wrenching on the album.  Her voice is drearily stating lines like “I’ve never been good at hiding my feelings from my face”, almost droning the lyrics, signifying emotional exhaustion. “I never met her, don’t want to, she’ll just give a face to the hole that I dug in this stupid minefield where I tried to plant my love” she sings as her voice begins to crack, as if she is about to scream or cry. I have always been impressed by McMahon’s ability to sing in a way that makes you feel the way she did when she wrote her songs. This track takes this to a whole new level, with her voice almost constantly feeling as it is about to crack. The song ends with her heavily reverberated vocals echo over the guitars, signifying loneliness.

Pasta is the ultimate anthem to loneliness. “My bedroom is a disaster” she proclaims loudly, opening the premise for the track. “I’ve been lost” she proclaims as the instrumentation grows more frantic; “But I’m really trying”. Stand Out begins with a groovy guitar lick, simple drums and minimal bass- the kind of rhythm that your body instantly responds to. The atmospheric and groovy instrumentation juxtaposes the minimalism of a majority of the album getting the track to do exactly as the title suggest- stand out. The melancholy returns with Mood Song, where we hear Angie’s voice hit some lighter, soprano tones, solidifying her already impressive vocal performance so far on the album as so much more diverse. Production wise, the lush vocal doubling and atmospheric use of reverb give the song an equal feeling of lushness as well as loneliness.

And I Am A Woman provides some important social commentary on the unique experiences of women. The poignancy of the first verse summarises this perfectly; “The other night I explained as we drove along, That I don’t like the man that sings this song. I’ve heard him referring to girls as if they are a game” perfectly summarising the normalcy of predatory behaviour towards women in media. The song is works as a slow burner, quickly growing towards the end as she bellows “I am a woman” over and over- owning her voice, her gender and her right to feel safe and valued.

The album comes to a close with If You Call. She drops her electric for a simple acoustic, some atmospheric white noise style sounds, her soft voice, some whistle solos and some of the most beautiful lyrics I have ever heard. The lyrics are very personal, almost confessional at times, falling back into what seems to be the main theme of the album- loneliness and longing. “If you call, I’ll turn on the light for you, If you call, I’m gonna be bright for you, If you call” she sings longingly throughout the chorus. In the second verse, her voice grows in a way that is almost pleading. The song finishes the album with a beautiful soundscape of acoustic guitar and background noise. I left ‘Salt’ inspired by Angie’s innate ability to be completely and utterly vulnerable. The album is equal parts saddening as it is comforting- there is something in Angie’s honestly throughout the tracks so intimate yet so interpersonal to anyone who makes the effort to really listen to what she has to say.

You can order ‘Salt’ HERE.

You can catch Angie live at the following dates and venues:

ANGIE MCMAHON
I MADE AN ALBUM AUSTRALIAN TOUR
Tickets via 
www.angiemcmahon.com – on sale 10:00am Friday 28 June
Wednesday 2 October – Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne VIC 
Thursday 3 October – Canberra Theatre – The Playhouse, Canberra ACT 
Friday 4 October – City Recital Hall, Sydney NSW 
Saturday 5 October – Yours & Owls, Wollongong NSW  
Thursday 10 October – Miami Marketta – Studio 56, Gold Coast QLD 
Friday 11 October – Solbar – Maroochydoore, QLD 
Saturday 12 October – The Tivoli, Brisbane QLD 
Wednesday 16 October – The Gov, Adelaide SA 
Friday 18 October – Astor Theatre, Perth WA
Saturday 19 October – The Waratah Hotel, Hobart TAS

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