The McMenamins have achieved all of these objectives with their latest release, In This Light. While the album addresses a range of subjects and approaches songs in a diversity of styles the underlying theme is life itself.
Every life is filled with drama, love, loss, longing and hope, and similarly this impressive album explores the range of human emotions experienced in response to everyday events. The McMenamins are the brother-sister duo of Simon and Fleur McMenamin who over the past few years have been steadily building a solid reputation on the live music circuit.
Following on from their self-titled debut, In This Light offers a range of musical styles from bluesy folk to harder edged alt-country rock numbers, and everything in between. It is an album which surprises, just when you think you have their style all worked out, they take an alternate path and explore something different. Similar to the elements of life which it addresses, the album switches between songs of longing and loss, to those of love and hope. Moving between tracks with ease The McMenamins have created an intricately woven pattern of real life which all can relate to.
‘How It Is’ is warm and rich, conjuring up the feeling of sun-filled days and fresh summer breezes shared with family and friends. With a happy melody and sweet lyrics, this is a song which smiles. In ‘Pretty Dollar’ the country dial is pushed up a few notches, and with its infectiously quick pace listeners are powerless to resist being swept up by the raw energy of this song. Like the majority of their songs the foot-tapping ‘Pretty Dollar’ tells a directly meaningful story from start to finish.
Changing up the pace, we arrive at ‘The Last Rain’, which has Fleur’s voice dropping down low as we enter deeper darker territory. Just like the time before a storm when energy in the air is building but not yet breaking, the song has a feeling of restraint, holding itself back to perfectly complement the song’s subject.
‘Meet in the Dark’ opens almost like a sea shanty and then melts into a beautiful intimate sounding song with vocals rich in country twang. This is a song which explores the beauty and romance in everyday life events with heartfelt emotion.
The album closes with ‘You Came Along’ an achingly beautiful song edged in sorrow which takes us on an emotional journey in itself, from warmth and love to coldness and loss. Balanced wonderfully with the pared back musical accompaniment the song creates romantic otherworldly dreamscapes helped along by the lyrics which are at their poetic best. This song showcases Fleur’s vocal abilities to full effect and to borrow a line from the song, they are ‘Just Like Magic’.
With this album The McMenamins take you by the hand and ask you to explore life with them for a while, looking at the world through their eyes. It is a journey for all to enjoy.
I originally wrote this article for ‘The Dwarf‘