You don't really expect much folksy, female singer-songwriter music to come out of Orange County, and you definitely don't expect that kind of music to float up the Copper Door's stairwell on a random night in the middle of the week. But, thanks to Whittier-based Aly McMahon, "The Songery" when she's performing on stage or in the studio, Downtown Santa Ana might as well have been New York's East Village last Wednesday, when McMahon took the stage at the Copper Door to serenade a modest crowd with her playful, stripped-down brand of piano-backed indie folk.
McMahon's been playing similar shows since October, when the freshly graduated 23-year-old finally recorded her demo, Two Songs a Day Keeps the Doctor a Way, a 13-song collection of raw and unpolished music that she wrote between the ages of 18 and 21. Even McMahon will admit that it was more parts practice and catharsis than magnum opus.
The record was partly recorded to give McMahon some studio experience and something for the merch tables at shows, but what resulted is a graceful collection of feathery, percussive vocals and fragile emotion -- uncanningly like early Regina Spektor. The album skips along at a merry pace, fueled by McMahon's coquettish, plodding vocals and deliberate keystrokes.
Her live performances add an entirely additional dimension to the music, as McMahon's playful banter, whether its based in excitement or maybe a little bit of nervousness, gently forces her audience to smile, or at least grin. Look for her to start showing up in more OC venues.More »