Andrew McMahon may still be best known for fronting Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin, but now it’s time for him to make a new name for himself. A new stage in life deserves a new chapter, and for Andrew McMahon, that is Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness.
With his new band name, Andrew is in some ways starting a new journey, while still continuing on with the sounds we know him for. Whereas Andrew’s past albums have been more focused on living through life-changing struggles (and rightfully so, given all he’s been through in the past 10 years), the self-titled album is more about living life with people you love and enjoying it to the fullest. Now that he’s in a better place, it really shows.
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
is a complete and cohesive set of songs - the album flows nicely from beginning to end with nothing feeling out of place. You can tell that this debut was very well thought out and focused, and it pays off.
The album kicks off with “Canyon Moon,” an upbeat and catchy song - the clapping throughout gives the song energy and propels you through the album. There’s something special about leaving the past behind, and that’s what “Canyon Moon” conveys as Andrew sings, “Take all your troubles and put them to bed. Burn down the mission with maps in your head.”
“Cecilia and the Satellite,” the album’s first single is for Andrew’s own miracle, his daughter Cecilia. Most of the album ties very closely into his relationship with his wife Kelly and baby Cecilia, as he sings, “For all the things my eyes have seen, the best by far is you.” This one is a sweet story made just for her. “If I could fly, then I would know, what life looks like from up above and down below. I’d keep you safe, I’d keep you dry. Don’t be afraid, Cecilia, I’m the satellite, and you’re the sky.”
Next up is “High Dive,” of love and longing - “Headlights in the driveway. You stand in the window waiting. The stars are out tonight, one million fires burning. Out there on the high dive, you dance with your headphones on and I could watch you all night long, dancing to someone else’s song.”
“All Our Lives” weaves together two stories of people Andrew recently encountered - one an old friend, another simply a lady at a stoplight. You can tell that these moments had a profound impact on him, as he sings, “I thought if I could tell her something, I would tell her this. There’s only two mistakes that I have made. It’s running from the people who could love me best, and trying to fix a world that I can’t change.”
“Black and White” is one of the piano-heavy songs we expect from Andrew, with a catchy chorus to tie it all together. “Driving Through a Dream” continues with Andrew’s favorite themes of driving, dreams, maps and skies.
The album closer, “Maps for the Getaway,” may be one of Andrew’s best songs yet. The melody may be simple, but the lyrics are what make this one stand out. “No cash in the bank, no paid holidays. All we have, all we have is gas in the tank, maps for the getaway. All we have, all we have is time.” It’s a reminder that all you really need in life is people you love, all you need is time and a getaway. Andrew’s always been one to share his thoughts and emotions in his lyrics - now even more so, and this is the perfect ending to a perfect album.