Putting the pieces back together

“I gave away almost a whole album of material on this record because that’s what we should be doing,” McMahon said. “You’ve got to be focusing on making better and better music.” | Jack Wehman/The Daily Cougar

A seasoned veteran in producing records with strong emotional content, Andrew McMahon has returned to the music scene with the latest Jack’s Mannequin album “People and Things,” which was released Oct. 4.

There’s something about a record whose lead instrument is a piano that can’t be beat. In typical Jack’s Mannequin fashion, “People and Things” layers eloquent, emotionally charged lyrics over rich piano melodies and easy percussive elements.

However, “People and Things” strays from previous Jack’s Mannequin albums thematically. Both “Everything in Transit” and “The Glass Passenger” are heavily focused on hope, heartbreak and recovery, which is due largely in part to McMahon’s battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

This time around however, McMahon focuses on putting the pieces back together.

“Coming out of ‘Passenger,’ there was certainly a need to reconcile things that I hadn’t paid as much attention as I should have before,” he said. “I think you hear that — I really spent a lot of time diving into those things.”

And that he does. Instead of writing flowery, youthful lyrics, McMahon crafts more raw, unblinded lyrics that focus on a deeper kind of love than we’ve seen from him before, but he still retains the feel of earlier Jack’s Mannequin albums.

“I think you hear this sort of relationship tension,” he said. “These elements are hashed out in the beginning of the record and slowly worked through and resolved to some extent by the end.”

And though this album draws from what’s been heard in previous Jack’s Mannequin recordings, it’s a more mature McMahon whose story is told through the speakers.

It seems as though the content in “People and Things” is more indicative of him coming to terms with the past as he enters into a new chapter in his life after tying the knot.

“The past six or seven years have been a raw time for me,” he said. “I think this record was me steering back to a healthier place.”

This freshness is certainly reflected throughout the album. The piano comes alive as he works through intricate thoughts and deep emotions almost effortlessly, which is nothing new for Jack’s Mannequin records.

True to form, “People and Things” is genuine in communicating his thoughts on life, marriage and letting go of the things that haunt us all. This translates into an honest and easily relatable album, which is something McMahon has come to master.

“It’s the fact that creating something you love can turn into something someone else loves,” he said. “It allows you to exchange some sort of energy — whether it’s through headphones or the live environment — that connects me to a whole universe of people that I would otherwise be disconnected from.

“That’s what I live for, that connection to other human beings through art.”

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