You can kind of get an idea of what to expect from Brandon McSwain when looking at whom he has shared a stage with. The list is an impressive array of mainstream pop acts that include Nickel Creek, Sister Hazel and Casting Crowns. His music has the same type of pop sensibilities and hooks that those previously mentioned acts possess but I would also include OneRepublic, U2 and Coldplay in there as well. To put it simply McSwain plays anthemic inspirational pop music. The songs like U2’s have motivational messages within the lyrics, which are cemented with powerful music.
It was obvious to me that McSwain knows the music he wants to play on his recent record The Breaking and you can tell that throughout the record. He displays confidence within his singing and no matter if you are into mainstream sounding pop or not you can’t deny that McSwain’s songs feel heartfelt. Perhaps the reason why the songs feel heartfelt is because there was an overarching theme throughout the album that inspired him. McSwain’s main theme of breaking barriers regardless of race, language, diversity, income, background, culture and beliefs has been evident in music even before “We Are The World” but nonetheless seems as relevant as ever.
If you are going to make pop music that will appeal to the masses you need to have the production to back it up. McSwain delivers on that aspect as the songs sound radio ready. I was especially impressed by how well his vocals blended into the music.
The opening track “The Breaking” is one of the many single worthy tracks on the album. There are some definite U2 like qualities here especially in regards to guitar work. The song is undoubtedly catchy and will get stuck in your head whether you want it to be or not. One of the highlights and most original song was “After Love.” There was a bit of funk attached to this rock song and it didn’t feel as much like a motivational piece as some of the other songs. The chorus is very good all around. He sings, “After Love / Love / Nothing else is good enough, Nothing less is good / After Love, Love.”
McSwain also attempts some melancholy ballads like “Beat of Our Hearts” and “If You can Still Hear Me”. He pulls off the singing style here just as well as he does on some of the epic rock tracks.
Let’s be real about who this album is going to appeal to. The Breaking will most likely not convert hipsters who are on a steady diet of Pitchfork approved music but will attract a larger, demographic of people who didn’t delete the new U2 album from their iPhones. If you consider yourself in the latter you will definitely want to check out The Breaking.
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