Texas singer-songwriter Jeff McMullen recently dropped his latest EP, Pain Management, a five-track collection of indie-rock embellished with retro pop flavors.
When he was eight-years-old, McMullen began classical piano lessons. A talented pianist, he competed throughout the state, winning against the best of the best. Yet McMullen despised playing piano, persevering because of his infatuation with his teacher. When he turned 16-years-old, he forsook piano for bass guitar, and played with a number of bands. Eventually, he became part of Aristaya, a touring cover band. Later, he attended college, earning his degree in radio, TV, and film, while performing at local clubs.
McMullen states, “I learned to sing by listening to soul singers like Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and yes, even Michael Bolton. One valuable lesson I learned about singing, though, was that it was not about the notes or pitch – it was all about life. Life made you the singer. Your experiences, your losses, your conviction are what allowed you to connect with audiences. So to this day, I try to implement those in every note.”
Pain Management opens with “Shyne On,” an ode to the therapeutic effects of music. The song starts off with plush gang-like harmonies flowing into a potent funk-rock groove riding a throbbing bassline and crisp drums. McMullen’s tasty, rasping voice infuses the tune with tight jazzy savors, as searing guitar accents add blistering colors.
“The Unmailed Letter” travels on an elegant piano-driving melody rife with deliciously trembling vocals, vaguely reminiscent of Meat Loaf, radiating sophisticated soft rock tinctures, while at the same time investing the tune with gentle compelling allure.
“Evidence” features creamy glimmering guitars topped by McMullen’s dulcet chaffing tones. Pop aromas imbue the tune with infectious vibrancy streaming on bright, sparkling textures. “Someday” opens on a melancholic piano, exuding tender nostalgic hues enhanced by McMullen’s lush gravelly timbres. This is a poignantly beautiful track.
“It’s Only Rain” delivers pop-flavored rock full of elusive blues textures, all combined with cool retro coloration, akin to Joe Cocker covering Elvis Presley.
Frankly, Pain Management took me by surprise. Gorgeous melodies, along with the scrumptious worn rasp of Jeff McMullen make this EP enchanting.