Who I Knew is the third offering from Irish-Canadian, singer-songwriter Milo McMahon and follows the artists 2014 debut Big City Hustle and Gone Too Long; an EP released earlier this year. Many of the songs from this EP were written around the same time as Gone Too Long, which McMahon suggests are like a “two part series”. This is something he illustrates (literally) with comparable artwork for both EPs and fans of McMahon’s work will certainly note the similarities between the two.
Who I Knew begins with a short (two and half minute), catchy track All or Nothing. It tells the story of a young man pleading with his love to make a choice between him and his lover (unrequited lover and spurned advances are a lyrical theme in the EP), whilst evoking hilarious imagery with the lyrics such as “I knew there was another when we started out, it was the elephant in the cupboard we never talked about.”
Whilst upbeat and an obvious opener to the EP, the song struggles to really say much musically but does offer just enough to keep you listening.
The EP’s second song, Caveman, is the one McMahon is most proud of and so he should be. Whilst the lyrics are an insightful commentary on the way life’s fundamentals (when it comes to love and relationships) haven’t really changed that much since the world was walked by cavemen, the tune is a real grower. It steps beyond what’s generally expected of a folky guitar-playing singer-songwriter and firmly introduces the psychedelic-rock element that fans of his work will be so familiar with. The song is longer too, which gives it time to develop change and evolve, showing off far more of McMahon’s song-writing abilities.
With perfect (and planned) symmetry, we come to the shorter third track Breeze. In a lot of ways, it mimics the feel of All or Nothing in its upbeat melody. However, the song jars a little while the lyrics and tune compliment and compete with one another. It might take a few listens, but it’s the one that tends to stick with you.
Finally, we come to the final eponymous track, Who I Knew. Much like Caveman, the song’s longer length allows the melody to develop from a beginning that could be taken from a Jason Mraz album, through a Radiohead-inspired middle section to long guitar solo instrumental that brings back a million memories of 1960s rock n’ roll. A “sort of a hybrid Neil Young/John Frusciante thing I guess,” suggests McMahon.
In a lot of ways, McMahon carves his own genre a kind of melodic-psychedelic-folk-rock, which manages to avoid a sticky trap of becoming a lump Wrigley’s Extra for the ears. There are just enough intriguing hooks to stop the tracks from becoming stale and tasteless and plenty to keep you wondering what else Milo McMahon might have in-store.
In short, this EP does exactly what it sets out to do: offers a variety and cross-section of McMahon’s musical and lyrical talents with just enough in the way of catchy tunes, and stellar guitar solos to leave you wanting more. The EP will wet your appetite so you’ll be all ready for the full album (which McMahon says they’ve saved some “banging tunes” for) to be released later in the year!