If home is where the heart is, then a great song certainly qualifies. Jeff McMullen proves this in his latest EP, Pain Management. An eclectic set of tracks that draws inspiration from various musical influences, from soft rock to trippy 80’s style electro-synth, the theme tying these tracks together is the heart in each one. Each track tells a story and uses it to fuel the mood of the song. Using a combination of various strong vocal styles, from upbeat to somber, Jeff McMullen sings his heart bare on this EP.
The first track, “Shyne On,” wastes no time in letting you know what it’s about. Blasting the listener with a sunny “I need some music to shine on, music to shine on, music to shine on me!” This leads into some charged guitar before going into full-blown 80’s synth style territory. With a charm akin to a retro-style video game, the upbeat synths mix well with the heavier undertones and wild guitar that fades in and out. Lyrically, the track is about looking for inspiration and therapy in music. At one point he begins to list off various painkillers such as percocet and oxycodone, claiming afterward “swallow em whole, but I’ll need more to cure my soul.” The track is a fun one, and certainly upbeat, but from here the EP makes a total flip. Each song following “Shyne On” is a rather heavy and personal look into the stitched-up heart of Jeff McMullen. The next track, “The Unmailed Letter,” is a much slower track that is introduced by dreamy pianos.
The track is a somber one of heartbreak and love lost. The lyrics are incredibly heartfelt and vocal performance has the tenderness to match. Lines such as “If I knew how to feel there would be no ordeal” followed by “If any words that I write could make it all work out right, I’d simply say ‘I wish you were here’” pull at your heartstrings when delivered by Jeff McMullen’s soft vocals. Another standout track, “Someday,” is similarly heartfelt. Almost the other side of the coin, this heartbreaking track is more about understanding that sometimes the best way to love someone is to let them go. This is shown in lines such as “I hope you find your heart, and know I wish you well” followed by the pain felt in lines such as “maybe sometimes think of me, because I’ll be thinking of you and rememberin’ everything we loved to do.” This is all in front of a somber piano performance which allows you to feel the emotion poured into the song. It is a very personal look into the mind of Jeff McMullen and how he uses his music to find shelter and refuge for his pain.
Pain Management is therapy on an EP. Jeff McMullen pours his heart and into these five tracks and it shows in each one. It is a journey through the stitched-up heart of Jeff McMullen, which starts with an upbeat and wild cry for inspiration through music. Jeff McMullen holds nothing back in this EP, and lays it all out for everyone to see. Each track on this EP is a tale ripped from the experienced mind of the artist, bringing a unique sound to each track and a heartfelt chapter of his life. The EP is very personal, with tracks such as “Evidence” and “Someday” offering very heartfelt lyrics with powerful vocal styles that make the emotion in each track palpable. By the end of it all you will not only know the scars that riddle Jeff McMullen’s heart, you may feel them as well. That alone is enough to warrant a listen from anyone.