Artist: Jeff McMullen
EP: ‘Pain Management’
Learning new things, and testing the boundaries of what’s possible, is an important element of the creative process for many musicians. That’s certainly the case for Texas-based singer-songwriter Jeff McMullen, who’s always exploring what new musical directions he can go in, and how he can also incorporate different and unique elements into his songs. His determination to share his ever-changing perspective with his fans is powerfully highlighted on his recently released five-track EP, ‘Pain Management.’ The musician’s new tunes represent some of the best work he’s created throughout his career, as it’s the culmination of both heartbreaks and notable minor successes throughout his life journey.
McMullen has emerged as a powerhouse pop-rock-soul singer-songwriter with ‘Pain Management,’ after he served as a premier frontman for countless cover bands around his home region of North Texas during the past few decades. Also inspired by such fellow musicians Dan Fogelberg to Edwin McCain, Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett, McMullen has expertly perfected the ability write from his own Life experiences, as his personal history and multitude of relationships have given him a lot of narratives to draw on. As a result, the dynamic multi-instrumentalist (keyboards and guitar), arranger and producer has perfected the ability to emote edgy, lived in and deeply soulful vocals over heartfelt arrangements, which become timeless tunes that are reminiscent of the work that was created by scholarly scribes in the ’70s.
McMullen immediately showcases that his experiences, losses and conviction are what allowed him to connect with audiences on the opening entry on ‘Pain Management,’ which is titled ‘Shyne On.’ The song, which is driven in part up its uptempo electric guitar riffs and pulsating drum beat, features McMullen as he calls on music, which is his friend, for redemption. The musician compellingly proclaims that he needs his tunes to help him feel better and cure his soul. The high-powered, emotional and funk-driven track features a bold brashness in its vocals and lyrics that grippingly sum up his collective life experiences. Also featuring high-powered synthesizers, keyboards and a energetic rhythm, the piece is the perfect choice to kick off any live performance.
‘Shyne On’ expertly transitions into the sophomore entry on McMullen’s new EP, ‘The Unmailed Letter,’ which effortlessly highlights his lighter and loving side. Emphasizing the inspiration he takes from Fogelberg, the musician infuses the track with a minimalist approach that mainly focuses on his vocals. The folk-infused song plunges into a deeper emotional depth than its predecessor, as its truly explores its sentimental lyrical realm and layered musical arrangement, particularly on the piano. The somber, tender track relatably focuses on heartbreak and lost love, as the singer sentimentally croons that he wishes he knew how to properly feel and make things work out alright.
‘Pain Management’ then delves into its best tune, ‘Evidence,’ during which McMullen contemplates the search for what life has to offer, as well as its true meaning. Driven by the tantalizing blend of sparkling guitar riffs and the musician’s textured, pop-inspired vocals, the bright, vibrant song sentimentally chronicles how grateful he is to have the life he has. He also expresses his happiness that there’s evidence that he has a long-lasting connection with the person he loves, and they’ll always be together in life.
McMullen’s latest EP begins to wind down with the equally sentimental, but more somber, penultimate track, ‘Someday.’ The tune’s narrative chronicles the story of a person who reluctantly accepts an untimely end to a love that they feel still has a chance to survive. The song is the essential example of the musician’s songwriting approach, and how well he succeeds at creating a piece with just his voice and piano. Much like with ‘The Unmailed Letter,’ ‘Someday’ is one of ‘Pain Management’s emotional peaks, as it radiates a heartfelt, tender nostalgia. The vocalist powerfully emotes that it’s important to understand that sometimes the best way to love someone is to let them go. The fourth entry on the EP offers a very personal look into McMullen’s mind, and how he uses his music to secure refuge for his pain.
‘Pain Management’ concludes with the more upbeat song, ‘It’s Only Rain,’ which is another prime example of how the musician has expertly perfected the craft of making an equally upbeat and emotional narrative. The soulful track expertly brings ‘Pain Management’ to a memorable conclusion, as McMullen emotionally croons that he’ll do anything to see the person he loves smile. The pop-rock anthem alluringly supports the importance of embracing, and appreciating, love.
Learning new things, and testing the boundaries of what’s possible, is a vital element of the creative process for many musicians. That’s certainly the case for McMullen, who’s always exploring what new musical directions he can go in, and how he can also incorporate different and unique elements into his songs. His determination to share his ever-changing perspective with his fans is powerfully highlighted on ‘Pain Management,’ whose tracks represent some of the best work he’s created throughout his career. The tunes are a culmination of both heartbreaks and notable minor successes throughout his life journey, which has led him to become a powerhouse pop-rock-soul singer-songwriter.