Low Blows - Meg Mac
We first introduced our next LCM featured artist Melbourne based singer-songwriter Meg Mac back in 2015. We highly rated her music and as a result Meg was one of our recommended artists and 'one to watch in 2016'. We are delighted to announce that Meg has just released her wonderful debut album entitled 'Low Blows' on Friday. Our LCM #TrackOfTheDay is the very catchy title track.
The album was recorded in 'Niles City Sound' in Fort Worth, Texas and in Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia. It was produced by Austin Jenkins, Josh Block, Chris Vivion.
Meg said that she wanted to aim for a live sound: "A lot of the vocal performances are live and unedited. It is hard to leave mistakes on a record but I think it was important to do that
The Western Australian - Interview by Simon Collins (12/07/17)
“Is it a soul album?” Melbourne-based singer/songwriter Meg Mac repeats the question posed in a Perth pub in relation to her stunning debut album, Low Blows.
“I don’t know. You tell me,” the normally shy 27-year-old adds. “You don’t know what your music is until people write about it ... I’d definitely say it’s soulful.”
The artist born Megan Sullivan McInerney possesses an enthralling voice, one that’s equally powerful and vulnerable. One worthy of being described as soulful. Very soulful. Mac grew up listening to her dad’s soul records — Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Otis Redding and Bill Withers, whose Grandma’s Hands she covered in 2014 on the MegMac EP — as well as her mum singing Irish folk songs around the house.
“I find a lot of folk music soulful,” she says. “I think (French singer) Edith Piaf is soulful. If I feel something, that’s what it’s about for me.”
Mac felt a connection when she first heard Leon Bridge’s 2015 debut album Coming Home, which earned the Texan soul artist a Grammy nomination and comparisons to the late, great Sam Cooke — Mac’s all-time favourite singer.
“I hadn’t felt like that for ages listening to an album,” she says. “You felt like you were in the room and they were playing for you. That was something I really wanted my album to feel like.
“I wanted everyone to know I’m serious. These are my songs and I wanted it to feel like you could come over to my house and I could sing these songs for you.”
Mac crossed paths with Bridges when he was touring Australia in early 2016. She wanted to meet his band, which features members of the Niles City Sound team that discovered him and produced Coming Home.
Producer/musicians Austin Jenkins, Josh Block and Chris Vivion run a studio loaded with vintage gear in Fort Worth, Texas and possess a clear vision on how to get the best out of a song. As they say on their website: “Niles City Sound makes records without shortcuts, without creative limitations on the authenticity of raw performance”.
Mac joined Niles City Sound in their studio for a day to try out one song, which was the first time she’d heard her voice on tape rather than a digital recording.
“The whole thing was just so fun and I was like ‘Yep, that feels like the right place to make my album’,” the WA Academy of Performing Arts graduate says. “Fort Worth reminds me a lot of Perth.”
Mac and the Texan trio built songs around piano and her incredible voice with as little editing as possible.
“There’s mistakes on there,” she says. “I write these songs so I can sing them, not so I can record them ... You need to know it’s just me, singing my song.”
In addition to the Fort Worth sessions, Mac recorded stripped-back ballad Shiny Bright in a single take at the famed Electric Lady studio in New York with producer John O’Mahony (Coldplay, Metric).
She also recorded Brooklyn Apartment and Ride It in Melbourne with members of the Panics. The ex-WA band’s drummer Myles Wootton sat in the producer’s chair.
Dylan Ollivierre of Perth popsters the Money War added guitar and keyboards to three tracks, including the gospel-inspired Cages.
Mac delves into rare storyteller terrain for Brooklyn Apartment, which she wrote while eavesdropping in an Airbnb in New York.
Meanwhile, Shiny Bright sees her reflect on the bombshell that “life’s not as shiny and bright as you thought it was, but that’s OK”.
Most of the songs on Low Blows are introspective ruminations, from the title track “about standing up for yourself and being confident” to opener Grace Gold’s desire to balance strength and kindness.
Kindness finds Mac declaring that “kindness is overrated and gets you nowhere” — not a sentiment she subscribes to but simply how she felt when she wrote the song.
Writing songs is often how she processes experiences and emotions, whether penning lyrics in her Melbourne bedroom or at the old upright piano in her parents’ living room in Sydney. (She also has a hard-drive full of vocal snippets recorded on her phone.)
“When I go and just sit down and sing, I’m like ‘Everything’s OK, this is why I do what I do’,” Mac says. “No matter how I’m feeling, if I go to the piano I’ll sing myself out of a feeling.”
Since winning Triple J Unearthed in 2014, Mac has earned a steady stream of industry and popular support.
Singles Roll Up Your Sleeves and Never Be both featured in the upper echelons of the Triple J Hottest 100 in 2015. That same year, she was pleasantly surprised to receive her first ARIA nominations, for best female artist and breakthrough artist. Both went to Courtney Barnett.
“And all I’d done that year was released Never Be,” she laughs. “I was shocked, but obviously I was very happy about it.”
Relief was the overwhelming emotion when she finished making Low Blows in October last year. Now that work is over, the work begins again with touring, kicking off at the Splendour in the Grass festival on July 23.
In October, Mac plays three shows at the Rosemount Hotel — more performances in the 600-capacity room were added after the first sold out the day it went on sale.
She’s excited about hitting the road. “I write songs so I can sing them for people. The album was made to be played live.”