It’s easy to forget that Angie McMahon’s debut album came out a little over a year ago. Salt quickly became a staple in Australian music, and for good reason. The Melbourne singer-songwriter's voice put her on the map as a result of its range; simultaneously tender and powerful, keeping you in her trance.
Reminiscent of her humble beginnings of piano playing, Angie has stripped things back to the grassroots level in her long-awaited EP, Piano Salt, by giving a new life to tracks from the beloved Salt and additional covers. Adapting to the changes in the world is no easy task, but with Angie’s charm, she’s remained involved in art and music by reigniting her creative fire with her piano.
Angie’s lullaby renditions begin as she opens with ‘Soon’, a track that closely follows the aftermath of a messy heartbreak. The difficulty associated with moving on seems nearly impossible as she admits “I feel like I'm living when I smell his cigarette smoke / Rich and bitter and yesterday I couldn't stop remembering him / Oh what a waste of breath and time”. Soon sets the tone for the rest of the EP, with the piano’s simplicity giving each track a new level of beauty and vulnerability in its rebirth.
Piano Salt in many ways is Salt’s older sister, she's mature and brave, sharing wisdom found in the memories that were first discovered throughout Salt with a splash of musical inspirations. This is best reflected in fan favourite ‘Slow Mover’ as the track transforms from something heartwarming to heart-wrenching in a graceful manner that resembles Angie’s growth, singing “You think you could help me swim / But I’ve already sunk”.
Leif Vollebekk’s raspy vocals blend smoothly together with Angie’s for a short moment of endearment in If You Call. Understanding that relationships take a lot of work, a sense of admiration shines through as they sing “All the loving that we’ve earned / Is gonna keep us breathing”. Whistling away, the track is a breath of fresh air.
The choice to include her covers of Bruce Springsteen and Lana Del Rey is purposeful, and the results are mesmerising. Each cover fits perfectly between her original tracks as Angie makes them her own, giving listeners the opportunity to soak in each and every word. ‘Born to Die’ is one of Lana Del Rey’s biggest songs, yet Angie’s portrayal creates a rich world of philosophy that seems more accessible than in the original track. A high point of Piano Salt, the covers make it crystal clear that Angie has mastered the magic of giving greater meaning to music.
‘Pasta’, much like the food, is a track to find comfort in. Somehow more revealing than the original, it sees Angie ponder through her 20’s and get a little ‘lost’ on the way. The closing track proves that Piano Salt is indeed the exquisite older sister to Salt as Angie lets her walls down and lets us in.
Angie McMahon’s ability to give a new life to the already gorgeous Salt is in some ways a sign of the times - reminding us that staying connected and creative can help you power through any situation. Angie has once again welcomed us into her world of honesty, longing and change in Piano Salt, and I for one could not be more honoured.
Piano Salt is available everywhere now.
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