Writing about Top 40 on a daily basis for CBS Local sometimes makes me forget why I started this blog in the first place. When I witnessed Kiernan McMullan last Sunday I instantly remembered.
What I love most about live music is the unexpected. Going to shows of artists I’m not too familiar with and being blown away by their talent is something I haven’t done in a while. It also makes me wonder about the state of the music industry and what it is that allows certain artists to make it and others to continue struggling. The moment Kiernan took the stage I had a feeling I’d be witnessing something special.
He kicked off his set at Brooklyn’s The Rock Shop looping drum rhythms on his guitar. Soon after, his soulful vocals entered with emotional lyrics like, “What is your problem? Why won’t you speak to me?” His self-deprecating onstage banter in between songs made its way into his songs which were full of brutally honest lines that hit you in the gut. One track in particular, “Company” was a new song that Kiernan prefaced as a track that dealt with love.
“People seem incredibly enamored with love and it’s kind of an issue,” he told the crowd. “This song speaks for itself.”
With lyrics like “Never loved you, I just needed the company,” he got his point across as his voice reverberated throughout the room.
“If it’s cool with you, I’m going to do a subdued set tonight because I’m feeling subdued. No metal. There will be no Pantera songs tonight,” he joked after performing a cover of Ryan Adams’ “Oh My Sweet Caroline.” “I feel like I’m work shopping songs for you tonight. I’m going into the studio soon.”
Debuting a few new tracks the honesty continued. “We both know that I’m not gonna love you forever but I like the idea all the same,” he sang with finger picked guitar parts. “We both know we could do much better so let’s cut our losses and call it a day,” he continued.
Alternating between spoken word and a raspier singing style his performance hushed the crowd. Songs like set closer “Sick of You” continued to showcase his talent and left a mark. Having opened for acts including Sheryl Crow, Colbie Callait, Ed Sheeran and Mat Kearney, Kiernan is well on his way. Here’s to hoping he’ll make it onto our airwaves soon.