Keep an eye on this Aussie songwriter, and show up early if you're going to Hozier
On Salt, the debut album Angie McMahon released over the summer, the Australian singer-guitarist has a knack for capturing the ball-of-twine mix of malaise, restlessness, unease and lingering sentimentality that often accompany the early 20s.
Prone to singing accompanied by nothing other than her alternately clean and crunchy electric guitar, McMahon often uses the verses of her songs to tell quick, vivid narratives and her choruses to succinctly sum it all up. “Pasta,” for instance, opens with a guitar progression that could double as an early home demo of “Teenage Wasteland” before jumping into cinematic snapshots of McMahon’s self-contained world: “My bedroom is a disaster/My dog has got kidney failure/I've been sitting at the bar too much/Kissing people in my head/And saying rubbish things I should not have said.” Then, when the chorus kicks in, she gets to the root of it all: “I’ve been lost for a while/And I’m feeling tired.”
McMahon’s songs feel as if she’s processing her emotions in real time, using a plainspoken, direct approach to matters of the heart. “I’d like to have real love someday/I’d like to get past this heartbreak… soon,” she sings on “Soon,” and on “Slow Mover,” she mulls over a relationship that’s moving slowly in ways that are good and also not so good: “Friend, old friend, it's 4 a.m./What are we doing in the street?/I don't want to buy fried chicken/I wish that I was going to sleep/I don’t want to kiss you underneath that flashing sign/What’s the hurry? We’re not ready, we’ve got plenty of time.”
McMahon is a rising star in her home country but is awaiting her crossover moment in the States, though it’s easy to see fans of Lucy Dacus and Courtney Barnett (and just good songwriting, in general) latch on to Salt in the next year. For now, she’ll go on first at the Palace Theatre on Wednesday, Nov. 6, opening for Hozier, a guy who somehow got big by comparing his love to martyrdom.