MAKING IT UP AS WE GO, the second album from indie Americana artist Erin McLendon, certainly disproves the theory of ‘sophomore slump’ with this strong offering. This seven-track set follows 2015’s FIRE AND WINE, and like its predecessor, it benefits from the steady hand of producer Stephen Leiweke.
Leiweke wisely puts Erin’s voice front and center in every track, each of which allows her distinctive vocals and strong storytelling to shine. The project contains all-original songs, Erin sharing co-write credit with several strong writers including Patricia Potts, Johnny Douglas, Bill DiLuigi, Britton Cameron and producer Leiweke.
“Honolulu Love” is Erin’s only solo-write on the project and consists (almost) entirely of her voice and ukulele playing alone. She wrote the happy-in-love song following a family vacation in Hawaii and the surprise Christmas gift of a new uke from her dad. The contagious finger-snapping, toe-tapping ditty invokes island living with lines like: “Something in the water, something in the air / Is making sure I just don’t care / ‘cause I’m falling in Honolulu love / and I don’t plan on falling out.” And there are plenty of witty word-plays such as “Here today, gone to Maui…”
The lead-off track, “When God Made A Woman,” gives listeners an idea of Erin’s wry wit with the opening lyric: “In the beginning, God made man then said ‘Let me try that again.’” With a hint of reverb and just enough banjo and guitar, this feels custom-made for Americana airplay.
The title track, “Making It Up as We Go,” is an uptempo anthem to not sweating the small stuff. “Put on your brave face and stand up tall / You and I aren’t so different after all” and even though “I don’t know who I am yet” she tells us that it doesn’t really matter. In an interview, she has said of this song: “A nay-sayer comes along to tell us we’re doing it wrong. I say ‘Never mind the nay-sayer. There is no one path to success, nor a guaranteed one. So, make it up as you go!’”
It’s obvious that this Durham, NC, native and Belmont grad had one heck of a good time creating this upbeat, positive collection of songs, drawing on her musical influences as diverse as Tina Turner, the Beatles, Brad Paisley and Andrew Lloyd Webber. (Interestingly, every song on this project has a ‘cold’ ending rather than a fade, lending a sense of completeness to each of them.)
Erin McLendon might be making it up as she goes, but she seems to be making all the right moves on the way. Give a listen to this showcase of her wit, wisdom and playfulness.
MAKING IT UP AS WE GO is now available via all digital and retail platforms including Spotify, Amazon and iTunes. For more information: www.erinmclendon.com
Review By Preshias Harris