By: Andy Downing, Reporter
From the March 26, 2015 edition
A celebration was in full effect when Jared Mahone took over a crowded Brothers Drake Meadery & Bar on a recent Friday.
The cause was twofold, as the concert marked both Mahone’s birthday (hence the colorful, frosted mini-cupcakes resting by the merch table) and the release of his new solo-acoustic EP, which was just distributed digitally to everyone who preordered the album via his PledgeMusic page.
For at least the first hour of the split set, which stretched late into the evening, the music matched this feel-good vibe, with Mahone, backed by a versatile five-piece band, moving through soul and funk-kissed tunes that served as aural confetti of sorts. Throughout, the musician’s songs exuded an almost unwavering sense of optimism, and even on those rare moments when he fell to the mat he bounced back up swinging.
“[I’m] down for the moment, but not out for the count,” he crooned on one number, prodded onward by slinky guitars that suggested Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.”
Elsewhere, relationships took center stage. Mahone dedicated one song to his wife — a tender number constructed atop electronic drums that mirrored a steady heartbeat. “I’m not the best dude, but I found a girl that makes me way better than I am,” he offered in introduction. A second song penned in honor of his grandfather referenced blood ties and those guardians who watch our steps and attempt to keep our paths clear of debris. On “No Me,” a lightly funky number spiked with hip-shaking synthesizer, Mahone even suggested his very existence relied on another, singing, “There’s no me without you.”
But even in those more existential moments the music never felt burdened or weighted down, and Mahone’s voice, as smooth as pond water on a windless day, assured that even his most wrenching, confused admissions sounded somehow hopeful and steady. “It’s all out of control,” he crooned on one tune, though his even tone suggested it was anything but.
Other songs, in turn, were pure, untethered fun — a musical reflection of the feel-good vibe that permeated every aspect of the evening. Such was the case on a giddy version of Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time” where Mahone unleashed a brief-yet-memorable falsetto shriek that sounded like the vocal equivalent of loosening one’s tie.