Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on JJ McGuigan, a Austin-based singer songwriter that has recently released a new record called ‘Dissociative.’ The performer, who was diagnosed with OCD and depression in his teenage years, is an outspoken advocate for mental health. He was a finalist in VH1’s ‘Save the Music’ songwriting competition, and his new effort is very much worth paying attention to. Let’s explore a selection of five tracks from ‘Dissociative.’
‘Home,’ the first track I delved into of McGuigan’s, is a compelling lyrical effort that resides largely in the comfort that home and familiarity gives the songwriter. There’s an ethereal quality to the writing that is particularly lovely; it feels honest and true. McGuigan’s music feels lived in... worn. He has experienced these songs, and it shows.
True to its name, ‘In All Honesty’ is an authentic tune to its core, resounding powerfully with a landscape of Americana-esque instrumentation. The band backing McGuigan on these recordings is particularly sharp, and not a note is missed. There’s an edge to ‘In All Honesty,’ though, so much so that it’s slightly reminiscent of a tune someone might hear on ‘Nirvana Unplugged’ or the like.
‘Forces I Cannot See,’ is an interesting track that does a rather good job chronicling the struggle of someone dealing with mental illness. It’s chock-full of self-doubt and frustration at losing a battle of internal strife with invisible, but nevertheless powerful forces. I’d argue it’s a very relatable track, as are many of these tunes. In contrast, the atmosphere soaked ‘Letter’ is more uplifting - even inspirational, facing those fears head on.
Instrumentally, the highlight of this selection of tracks is ‘Desperate Eyes,’ a passionate performance that houses a warm, reverberated soundscape that’ll send a chill down one’s spine. It’s very powerful; his emotional vocals seep into one's essence in a compelling fashion.
All of McGuigan’s music is free on his website. It’s worth downloading and kicking a few bucks his way, too, because he’s writing solid singer songwriter music with particularly insightful introspective lyricism. Check him out below!