Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Kelly McGrath - You and Me Today

Kelly McGrath - You and Me Today 

Despite its painful subject matter, Kelly McGrath has returned with a new single that rates among the most beautifully penned numbers of the year. This harbinger from her soon to be released fourth album shows that her musical evolution is ongoing and that she continues improving with each successive release. This single is perhaps the best job of song construction she’s managed yet – “You and Me Today” has deliberate pacing and assorted passages that hang together nicely with the pleasant sense of inevitability. Experienced listeners will often recognize where McGrath is going musically but she gets there so artistically that it’s impossible to not enjoy the journey. She is nominally an Americana artist, particularly since she’s based out of an admittedly more cosmopolitan than ever before Nashville, but the reality is that McGrath is much more of a comfortable fit in the singer/songwriter school of performers with irrepressible commercial appeal.  

This is much more than some weepy overwrought tribute to her dead father. McGrath fashions some beautiful melodies to help depict for listeners her journey in grappling with the enormity of her loss and reflecting on the significance of the relationship with the man. Her voice reflects the miles racked up in dealing with these truths – it emotes beautifully, aching one moment, scaling great heights in the next. She plays her cards right with the phrasing as well and never renders a single line in the song in some cheesy, off-putting way. Her voice likewise shows how much she listens to the band’s performance. Her singing dovetails neatly into every musical movement and truly embodies what it means for a human voice to serve as one more instrument in a musical performance. 

Her lyrics could do for all of the Hollywood moments, the common images we would associate with this topic, but instead she takes on a more introspective tint while still peppering the track with a number of relevant details that help create a narrative. The song has a great running time to pull this off and never wastes the audience’s time at all waiting for payoffs that never arrive or fail to satisfy. The chorus is the song’s big top moment and it doesn’t disappoint, but even then, McGrath is clearly determined to do this song the right way and resists any urge for vocal showboating.  

Certain musical performances stand out. The guitar work on “You and Me Today” essentially acts as a second voice answering McGrath in an elegant quasi-call and response fashion. It’s the central way “You and Me Today” delivers its melody and, in the end, melody is the key to making this subject easier to handle. McGrath never cheats the listener though. This is a challenging track emotionally and shows Kelly McGrath has developed into a fully-realized artist unafraid to bare her pain in her art. 

Aaron Ellis

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