CD Review: Jeff McMullen “Pain Management”

Having performed in several bands over the years, Texas-based singer-songwriter Jeff McMullen is now writing his own music. In fact, a new EP has just been completed by the singer-songwriter that makes use of all of Jeff McMullen’s various influences. The release also finds him switching from his two main instruments- the keyboards and the guitar. The new EP from Jeff McMullen is entitled Pain Management.

Jeff McMullen begins his Pain Management EP with the track “Shyne On”. The first few seconds of the track feature harmonic a’cappella vocals created by McMullen. Those vocals feature a feel that reminds the listener of R&B music. And while those initial vocals have a strong R&B vibe to them, that’s somewhat of a fooler as what follows is nothing like what one would expect. The R&B flavored vocals segue into guitar-driven Hard Rock. That approach comes with Hip-Hop influenced drumbeats as well as some Funk flavor. The entire combination creates a beginning to the track that encapsulates the entire music industry at one time, and all within forty seconds or so.  As the track finally starts, what goes forward is a track that includes a strong reference to Michael Jackson as you can almost definitely hear elements of “Thriller” in the music of “Shyne On”. Combined together, all of the various elements create a song that would have fit solidly in radio formats back in the eighties.

Pain Management continues with “The Unmailed Letter”. Where “Shyne On” was guitar-driven, this track features McMullen on the keyboards. Those keyboards create a soft, gentle feel to the music. Add some strings to those keys and the track contains an emotional feel even before McMullen starts to sing.  As McMullen’s vocals join the keyboards, there is a slight indication of Bruce Springsteen in his voice. The lyrics of the song find McMullen singing a ballad about a relationship that came to an end a long time ago. The song’s lyrics also hint at the regrets that have been left behind as he questions what could have been. As McMullen sings, it becomes clear this letter will never be sent as he knows not where to even start looking in order to reach his love interest from so long ago. The simple piano and occasional strings mixed with the lyrics of lost love create a track with a strong emotional pull to it.

The track “Evidence” continues the Pain Management EP from Jeff McMullen. Once again, McMullen calls upon the guitar to help create the music for the song. This time, however, it is the acoustic guitar that is the focus. With the acoustic guitar, Jeff McMullen creates a Folk-Rock track that combines elements of Soft Rock, Folk and some Jazz flavor together. This musical mix and McMullen’s vocals create a track that fits somewhere within the mid-to-late eighties and the early nineties. Altogether, the track brings to mind the Pop-Rock stylings of someone like Bruce Hornsby & the Range and/or Steve Winwood. This comparison is evident because of the relaxed nature of the track. Like the previous songs, “Evidence” is a song that contains a very commercial feel to the music. This song could easily find its way onto Adult Contemporary radio formats because of its somewhat timeless musical approach.

The Pain Management EP continues with yet another piano-based track from Jeff McMullen. And like with the song that comes before it, this track called “Someday” has a laidback feel to the music. This time, McMullen seems to be calling upon the influence from the one and only Phil Collins as the piano-based track of “Someday” contains another Pop-Rock/Lite Rock approach to the music. In fact, you can hear the same type of musical approach in McMullen’s track as you can hear in, say, “Take a Look at Me Now” from Collins. Much like the track of “The Unmailed Letter” which came earlier in the EP, McMullen writes a song about a chance to find love once again. With only the sound of the piano, it makes the track seem a little sparse. But that simplistic feel gives the listener a chance to experience McMullen up close.

Jeff McMullen brings his Pain Management EP to a close with the track “It’s Only Rain”. After the couple of songs that feature very minimalistic musical approaches, McMullen finishes off the release with a song with a full musical feel to the music. Along with his vocals, the track features a full band with guitar, drums, bass and keys. The result is a song with Lite Rock qualities to it. And like songs that came before it, influences from artists like Bruce Hornsby, Steve Winwood or others from the eighties and/or nineties come through in the music. Like with most of the other tracks, this song has a strong commercial feel to it and would fit rather well on Adult Contemporary radio formats. After the previous songs “Evidence” and “Someday,” the stronger, fuller “It’s Only Rain” feels almost perfect as the final track of the release.

The short Pain Management EP from Jeff McMullen finds the singer-songwriter creating music that falls squarely in the era of the seventies and eighties. With the numerous influences that appear on the release, this EP transitions between Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary and Pop-Rock. The music that the listener experiences comes with a strong timeless feel to it. While it doesn’t really push the boundaries of music, this release is solid.    

For more information, check out Jeff McMullen’s PR firm of Whiplash PR & Management by clicking on the logo for the company.

 

 

 

 

For a taste of the Pain Management EP from Jeff McMullen, check out the song “Shyne On”.

To check out the entire Pain Management EP from Jeff McMullen, click on the album cover below: