For some, like Portland Maine’s Bob McKillop, songwriting is a carefully crafted practice in short story writing. While the narrative of raw, heart on sleeve cut open songs seem to have the monopoly on emotional connection, let us not forget about the art of finding the right way to tell your own story by working within the spirit of something outside yourself. Finding the personal by using songcraft to “work within a box” is an age old ritual in music, something that we have perhaps forgotten about in our millennial world of bedroom pop and punk rock music. But “Attitude Adjustment”, McKillop’s most recent 4 song EP is an exploration of country, folk, blues, and slight jazz here and there, shows us just how varied and bold songwriting can be when approached as an artform instead of a vent.
“Attitude Adjustment” opens up with “Hair of The Dog”, a slower country-folk tune about waking up after having too much to drink. The slide guitar on this track is beautiful, and with a simple hook and melody being supported by some sly drums, it carries you through. I use the word “sly” because the character of this song is allowed to shine through the instrumentation and the affect on McKillop’s singing. You can certainly start to picture the protagonist because this tune paints a picture clearly, creating a character who voices the tune.
“Deep Down Beautiful” stays acoustic but trends towards a more rock-steady feel, using a staccato guitar rhythm and soaring vocals to capture the open heart adventure of falling for an amazing goddess of a woman. The lyrics explore this almost like a character study in mythology, but makes sure not to idealize her too much, exploring the idea of love felt between people as the real beauty.
Next track, “If I Had A Dog” has a killer trumpet line, and is an amazing, playful, brassy and bluesy song. This one explores the character of a drifter who isn’t quite done drifting yet: you can feel through the words and the music that perhaps there is hope for a future where the drifter has a lot of material things and responsibilities, but for now he feels he isn’t ready, and doesn’t want those things, and still has more adventure in front of him.
On the opposite side of the plot spectrum, “Ten Years In” is a fun love song about being past the honey-moon phase and getting to the “boring part” of a relationship, that is of course anything but boring! The acoustic rhythm guitar on this, much like all the tracks, is inviting and warm, supported expertly by a tricky and fun slide guitar line. It gets increasingly difficult to write a love song in this day and age but “Ten Years In” pulls it off with gusto.
Throughout Attitude Adjustment, Bob McKillop’s voice is steady and rings true, adding depth and emotion to each character and story profiled throughout his 4 track mythology. You can find it on iTunes, Spotify, or most other music providers, and if you enjoy it spread it far and wide so its characters lives can live on, and on, and on.
You can hear Attitude Adjustment at Bobmckillop.com