Friday, 13 May 2016

Record Review - Sean McMahon

Published in the Shortlist section of The Sydney Morning Herald, May 13.

Sean McMahon & The Moonmen
Independent / MGM
Sean McMahon is no newbie. His work with Melbourne country rockers Downhills Home, chanteuse Jemma Rowlands, and on his own with Western Union, see him regarded as one of this country’s finest country-tinged guitarists and songwriters, albeit one who’s never really taken centre stage. With new outfit The Moonmen however, Sean McMahon has stepped forward, and has hit his straps.

A gorgeously warm release, Shiner slowly blooms from the lilting vocalled sweetness of opener House Of Mirrors and doesn’t stop growing, the feel and shimmer continuing long after the closing notes of the slow-groove title track have faded. Bringing in former Downhills Michael Hubbard (bass) and Josh Duiker (drums), along with pedal steel maestro Ben Franz (plus Matt Walker and Rowlands on occasional backing vocals), McMahon has crafted an album that stacks up on all fronts – his guitar, at the forefront for the most past, is the album’s signature; his voice is strong but is used as a compliment; his songwriting is on point, tight and poignant.

Based in the country idiom but completely unafraid to meander down myriad other paths – dalliances with rock, folk and pop – Shiner has properly unearthed a contender, Sean McMahon shown as a master of his craft.

Samuel J. Fell

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