Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Music certainly has changed in the last few years. Influences, styles, mediums and most of all the simple way fans consume it, so it warms my old curmudgeonly heart to stumble on a young man who is a throwback to a generation that failed to heed Victor Kurgan’s advice and seems to be fading away.
Twenty-year old Edmonton native Eamon McGrath writes songs because he has to... not because he wants to or even for more superficial reasons (girls, booze, fame). No, this guy records song after song – 18 home records already – afraid to let time sit still or any idea slip by undocumented. He’s the type of artist that makes me want to talk in cliches and run wild with hyperbolic comparisons, mostly because he's the type of artist that will be around for years and years singing to the same same small crowds that love his songs.
It's quite obvious that the blog world has little to no time for a guy, a guitar, his amp and never ending stream of ideas, especially if he’s not playing catchy acoustic riffs. The styles and people that influence Eamon are dying off and being forgotten. Punk rock has been bought and sold; tied to energy drinks and mall going youths while the ideals it stood far are long since forgotten. The blues? Well, unless it’s a frantic slide guitar and stomp a hole through the floor percussion, people don’t have time to listen. The days of the wandering, singing street poet have given way to mash-ups and recycled ideas and personally I think music is suffering as a result.
People these days say how The Hold Steady speaks perfectly for their youth and can save your life by bringing joy to music again... and while that may be true for those who think that high school and college were the best days of our lives, artists like Eamon speak for the kids that don’t have it figured out, get run over by love and isolation and wonder if it's ever just going to work out. Eamon isn’t going to save them or rock n’ roll, but he’s one of those artists that help us remember that for even a moment, the simple strums of an acoustic are enough to get us through the day.
His songs are strong enough to be played alone on stage, the type you try to figure out on your own guitar and stick with you the more you listen. It’s pointless to try to compare a 20-year old with the greats like Waits or Young, but McGrath seems like he could walk the same path; unafraid to power through the sludge and try something that may sound like nothing more than echoing distortion or open up to a room full of drunken punks with a stripped down touching ballad.
“Get yourself together man, the bars are barely open. But you’ve got yourself a drink and it’s half gone.”
Eamon has some issues, ones he doesn’t skirt but more importantly ones he doesn’t glamorize. The drinks battle the sadness, trying to repress the inevitable but when the sadness wins out like it does on the beautifully touching Holy Roller it hits with the weight of the world as a man searches for faith or even the hope that things could get better. Even as Eamon tries to lessen the impact with scattered guitar feedback, the simple rolling piano and keep time percussion wins out and you start looking upward with him.
The 13 songs were cherry picked from his hundreds or recorded works by the good people at White Whale, but there’s so much honesty, angst, depression, emotion and fucking talent that it doesn’t much matter where or when they originated. Eamon isn’t going anywhere and that’s something he needs as much as we do now. It’s keeping him going, keeping us listening and keeping the blood ripping through our veins and forcing our heart to beat.
MP3::Eamon McGrath - Welcome to the Heart
Eamon McGrath - Big River
Songs To Sing When Your Dead/Wild Dogs