Hallowe’en 2017: It’s just turned dark and spooky outside and I’m listening to ‘A Haunting’. It’s the excellent opening track of Edelle McMahon’s imaginatively titled album ‘Adventures in Narcissism’.
There is indeed a haunting quality in this with gritty, scornful lyrics”
Like a punch in the gut. Like a mouthful of blood. Grimace hard not to flinch as your hand gropes in the mud.
This is coupled with a sense of contentiousness:
Like a moth to a flame, no escape from your litany of shame.
Hints of the supernatural, of some godawful crime witnessed by a sneering femme fatale, humming to the horror of it all.
Yet the absolute ethereal quality of Edelle McMahon’s beautiful voice is incongruous with the eerie, darkness of this song.
Believe me, this song will get under your skin – just like the final line – “a haunting has begun” – and it stays that way until the end of the album of eight perfectly formed songs, crafted by the outstandingly gifted Edelle, produced and engineered by the maestro that is Michael Mormecha.
Just a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of listening live to Edelle play some of these tunes at a small, intimate house gig. She has a wicked sense of humour and incisive insight into character. She comes across as down to earth, self-mocking and erudite yet her ethereal voice belongs to another world. It is exquisite.
That wry worldview features in a few more tunes. However, it is track two that is the masthead.
‘Ships Will Sail’ features an acoustic melody that reminds me a little of Christopher Cross. Reflective, wistful, metaphorical, lyrically astute; it leaves an imprint. Once heard, never forgotten, instantly memorable.
‘Calendar Days’ was co-written with her friend and poet Jim Johnston (a co-writer on several other tracks). It’s a dark, stark song that captures the passing of the seasons, of time, day after day, week after week, making for long calendar days – yet the chorus “Winter binds Autumn to Spring” is just so achingly beautiful.
We learned that night that ‘Ignition’ is about sex and desire. So we’re getting a theme here perhaps. Edgy, fiery, with a pulse throughout and an interesting irregular drum beat.
‘Demeanor’ continues that dark, brooding melancholy – that cerebral, questioning quality that seems to run throughout. The contradictory element between the beauty of Edelle’s voice and the mysterious, shadowy intrigue that haunts all these songs.
‘Hollow Lullaby’ for example continues that subtle nightmarish quality. The emptiness of survival in a consumer-driven, materially infested, sheep-like society. She offers a callous commentary on the failing place of individuality and modern gullibility. Edelle casts a cold eye, then passes by on to ‘Human Earthquake’ with:
Flesh and faultlines, tangled bloodlines.
‘Funny’s Not The Word’ is the fabulous tongue in cheek final track. Catchy, sarky, sassy, with a customary quirk. Wonderful stuff altogether.
All songs were brilliantly produced and engineered by Michael Mormecha at Millbank Studios. The end result is unique, creative, captivating and very, very clever.
Highly recommended. All songs can be heard live with full band at the album launch in Accidental Theatre, Shaftesbury Square, Belfast on Thursday 22nd November 2017. And finally, Adventures in Narcissism deserves the 2017 award for best album title surely.