Andrew McMahon has had a winding road to this artfully balanced life. This is a man who was diagnosed with cancer at 22 years old, on the cusp of releasing his debut album (as Jack's Mannequin). Who wed Kelly the following year and then took on an arduous schedule of touring and album releases. Who was nominated for an Emmy Award for his song “I Heard Your Voice in a Dream” on NBC’s Smash. Who sold nearly 2 million albums in a little more than a decade. Who, for much of that time, was struggling underneath the weight of it all.
The first single, “Cecilia and the Satellite” was actually one of the last songs written for the album. “A few weeks before Cecilia was born, I was introduced to James Flannigan, a British songwriter and producer. I knew I wanted to write a song for her, to show her who I was before she was born and my commitment to protect her.” While “Cecilia” details McMahon’s love in high contrast with what he calls “the impermanence of living,” - its soaring chorus anchored by a kick drum like the steady thump of a heartbeat.
After seeing the impressive results of their session, McMahon asked Flannigan to join him and producer Mike Viola to help finish production of the album. The three of them bounced around LA in various production spaces and studios until all the details had been tweaked and McMahon was satisfied that it reflected the journey as a whole. “I had been dreaming about an album that sounded like this for years, but I didn’t know it until I heard it. It took all three of us. I realize now how important every piece of the process was - every step on the path and every voice in the room.
If, as McMahon says, "music is a mirror to the adventure of living," then it follows that each new chapter of life deserves its own title. As such, he decided his music would go forward under the name Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. “My wilderness is mostly abstract,” he posits, “I forced myself into strange new places on the hunt for these songs, and I met some amazing people in the process. The new name carries the spirit of our collaboration.
There is a balancing act that permeates not only McMahon’s life but his new album as well, mixing the electronic and the acoustic, the modern and the classic. But even though McMahon may have created two mini-masterpieces: an epic album stocked to the gills with anthemic songs and a healthy, bright, baby girl with Kelly, there’s no question which one he’s more proud of.