Low Blows Meg Mac Sony As Melbourne songstress Megan McInerney, better known as Meg Mac, took to the stage in support of Mumford & Sons at Sydney’s Domain in late 2015, a young man in the crowd could be heard saying, “Damn, for a white girl she’s sure got soul.” On the release of her highly anticipated debut album almost two years later, this statement could not ring more true. Low Blows oozes soul from top to toe. It’s dramatic and punchy but not overwrought, anxious yet powerful, sharp yet smooth. All of which highlights how far the 27-year-old has come since winning Triple J’s Unearthed Artist of the Year in 2014 with her impressive first two singles, Known Better and Every Lie.
For the past three years, McInerney’s catchy music, quirky personality, humility and savvy social media presence have earned her a wealth of industry and community support. She even toured the US with American soul king D’Angelo and was nominated in the best female artist and breakthrough artist ARIA categories in 2015, all before releasing a fulllength album. When she eventually decided to produce an album she enlisted the help of the team from Niles City Sound in Fort Worth, Texas, that worked on the highly successful Leon Bridges album Coming Home, and what they have created is a slick and mature debut release. The measured songwriting and at times complex rhythmic structures reflect the growth of an artist who has spent years perfecting her craft. While the sonic landscape of the album lacks variation, there are captivating melodies and compelling lyrics. At the heart of it all lies McInerney’s unique voice, a striking, rich instrument with an intriguing nasal quality that is given scope to shine on this release. Kindness sounds like two songs in one, complete with robust beat and defiant vocals, including a suite of harmonies. Didn’t Wanna Get So Low But I Had To and Maybe It’s My First Time are poignant, catchy tunes driven by piano and simmer above that continuous soulful underbelly. The title track has a rousing chorus fit for a singalong, whereas Cages is a subdued, heart-on-the-sleeve ballad with moving chorus: “October, please be good to me.”
Shiny Bright is the most compelling tune of the album, McInerney wailing beautifully above sparse piano, expressing vulnerable thoughts like “growing up is getting harder to handle” and “I never really thought about 40 years from now, ’cause everybody told me think here and now”.
At the album preview in Sydney a few months ago, McInerney explained that her time writing in New York’s Brooklyn was formative. The aptly named Brooklyn Apartment (It’s Louder Than the TV and the Radio) recounts her time there and the bustling lives going on around her. When she spoke to the crowd between songs she sounded nervous and shaky, but when singing she is clearly at home, revealing her soul for all to see and hear.