Renowned across his native Australia for his powerhouse voice, incisive and insightful songwriting and a freewheeling, eclectic vibe that draws from rock, pop, country, Celtic, folk and blues, Melbourne singer/songwriter Brendan McMahon has mastered the art of creating songs from a mix of exotic travel adventures and the simplest things (sometimes found in his own backyard!) since releasing his 2015 debut album Falling To Earth under the moniker Satellite Gods. Teaming again with a batch of Australia’s most brilliant musical “gods,” he continues his dynamic musical evolution with five of his edgiest, most emotionally hard-hitting tracks ever on his fresh five track EP About Joe – follow up to his well-received 2017 set Universalist.
Just as he had everyone guessing about the inspiration behind one of his earlier trademark songs “Morris” (who turned out to be a cow living on his property!), the epic, nearly 7 minute title inspired track begs the question, just who is “Gentleman Joe”? The song, whose explosive hook “I believe, I believe…there’s something so wrong…I believe, I believe, it could be so strong…” is like a mantra for peace on planet earth, was inspired by three incredible people Brendan met on his travels to Morocco. Meeting these faithful people – Joe the Bedouin descendant, town historian Sale M and the chatty, shrewd “El F M” – made the singer realize, as he sings, that “It’s such a shame, we’re conditioned to see the worst in everything…we overlook all the good there is to see.”
Another Brendan trip, this time to China, inspired the simmering pop/rock power ballad “Home,” in which he lies awake, looks out the window at the city at 4 a.m. and laments being a “long way from my home” and missing everyone and everything that waits for him miles away. On the infectious, jangling “Fall Down,” he cleverly personifies a house whose foundation needs repair calling out for help – which may or may not be interpreted as a metaphor! Two of the tracks, the haunting, military drumbeat driven “Doctor” and the high energy, anthem-like “Alive” share different slices of life that result in gratitude for the simple things of life.
“Doctor” was inspired by the story told by a young Australian soldier. The man was a young surfer who thought joining the military would give more purpose to his life. As a member of SAS, a special group of Aussie armed forces, he fought in Afghanistan and lost both his legs when his vehicle rode over a land mine. From the man’s point of view, Brendan sings in a low, ominous tone, “Tell me, now, how I’m supposed to live…” Describing the inspiration for “Alive,” he says, “It’s about what it is to be alive, simple things I describe as a series of observations, like the eyes of a child, the wind in your hair, the pureness of white, the warmth of sunlight, the light from the moon. The lyric touches on moments and pleasures we often take for granted but deserve recognition. To me, the small things are the really great things about life.”