Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
Reviewed by: Brian Roser
This album is a series of piano-based power ballads. If you think that makes them in some way less than guitar-based ones, Billy Joel will be along shortly to smack you around for your disturbing lack of faith. The music has an almost epic feel to it, which provides a stark contrast to the intensely personal lyrics. At 32 and with several years of songwriting under his belt, McMahon’s music has a much more mature quality to it. Yes, he sings of love, but not the shallow love found on the high school dance floor. This is love of a more of a blue-collar kind. It is full of mistakes, of loss and imperfection, but for all that it is far more deep than one that came too easily.
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness is his first album under his own name. He started out with Something Corporate then moved out on his own with Jack’s Mannequin and now I suppose he just no longer feels the need for a name other than his own. Not that he needs one; his name is impressive enough as it is. At the age of nine years old, he started teaching himself to play the piano. After being diagnosed with leukemia in 2005, he beat it with a stem cell transplant from his sister. Now he raises money for cancer research and to top it all off, he is the father of a newborn daughter. Beat that.
The imagery McMahon evokes in his songs is very intense: seeing the girl in the window as you pull into her driveway or waves on the beach washing away the bonfire ash the tourists have left behind. It is listenable, singable and the perfect addition to your next road trip.