My thoughts on the Australian singer’s beautiful debut album, whose soulful simplicity speaks volumes.
After seeing her perform at All Points East earlier this year, I was really impressed by Angie McMahon’s powerful voice and her funny, laid-back persona on stage. Get yourself a cup of something warm and comforting, snuggle up somewhere quiet and join me as I listen to ‘Salt’.
1. Play The Game
Not particularly memorable on its own, but a good introduction to the album and McMahon’s haunting vocals. Her voice has such depth and confidence to it that you instantly want to hear where it will go next. Definitely a promising start.
This track is McMahon doing what she does best, with its slow, emotional start building to an impressive crescendo. The images in her lyrics are simply but evocative: she sings about how the ‘rich and bitter’ smell of cigarette smoke makes her feel alive in the midst of her sadness. This song is recognisably about heartbreak, but it’s not at all cliché, and anyone who can find new ways to talk about love has got to be worth listening to.
3. Keeping Time
More upbeat than the first two, demonstrating McMahon’s awareness of pacing and where songs fit best in her album. The lyrics are interesting and considered – I particularly enjoyed the image of ‘sinking into a lust like it was water’, reflecting McMahon’s romantic past. A very enjoyable track.
4. Slow Mover
If you’ve heard of McMahon already, it’s likely that this song is why. It’s undoubtedly my favourite of the album, and the one that impressed me most live. Incredibly catchy and with a different energy to the rest of the album, you just can’t help but move to this one.
5. Missing Me
Usually McMahon saves the punches for her lyrics alone, but the guitar in ‘Missing Me’ definitely has attitude. The riffs that accompany the chorus are aggressive and menacing, really conveying the pained anger of a woman who deserves better from her lover. A close second favourite for me.
A good song, but pretty forgettable. The pace does quicken, but I can’t help feeling this song lacks the drama of the previous two tracks. But just as I’m beginning to grow tired of the unnecessarily long pauses for effect and the repetitive ‘slow start, steady build up’ pattern, I’m lulled back in. McMahon’s incredible voice just sells it every time.
Result! McMahon’s brought the drama back. This is, by far, one of the strongest tracks on the album. Its iconic line ‘And I spend so much time eating pasta’ is something us students can all relate to scarily well – but of course, the song reaches far wider. A sense of aimlessness and disconnection in a changing world are the main themes on this catchy track, but you need to dig deeper to discover all the layers. I really enjoyed this one – it’s clear that it’ll become a firm fan favourite.
Another really cool song that’ll definitely get you tapping your toes. I was reminded a bit of Milky Chance with the acoustic guitar in this song – just like the German folk group, McMahon certainly knows how to put personality into every aspect of her music.
9. Mood Song
This song gave me pretty strong ‘First Aid Kit’ vibes, with its soothing vocals and folksy feel. A reflective, melodic track after the energetic ‘Pasta’ and ‘Standout’.
10. And I Am a Woman
As the album draws to a close, perhaps McMahon was feeling the strain a little bit – her normally controlled voice sounds a bit too rasping and deliberately unintelligible on this one. That said, this is still a powerful song. To me, it sounds like she’s standing up for herself on her debut album, announcing herself and her way of thinking to the world.
11. If You Call
Despite being a bit too long for my liking, this track feels like a suitable winding down of, and farewell to, the album. The carefree whistling and the sounds of the ocean drifting into the final few minutes were really quite beautiful. I’m glad McMahon chose this to end ‘Salt’, and I think anyone that comes across this album would be equally pleased with what they find.
Featured image Copyright Paige Clark, The Guardian.