REVERB_REVIEWS: John Muirhead ‘Foundational‘ EP

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If you’re tapped into the London singer/songwriter scene, either by way of musicianship or just being a fan, you’ve likely heard John Muirhead’s name mentioned a time or three. The young musician has been receiving acclaim since his Yesterday’s Smile EP debuted in 2016. His music is honest, genuine and, often times, can be taken as that ideal sound you’d love to have playing around the campfire on those relaxing, cool summer nights.

His endeavours have made him a recognized name in the Canadian indie music scene at large. Yesterday’s Smile was nominated for the Canadian Folk Music Awards and had been showcased at the Folk Music Ontario conference in Ottawa. His song, “The Space Between Stars”, earned him a spot on the top 10 finalists for the Canadian Songwriting Competition. John has since toured extensively, gaining a reputation across the country, not to mention pulling a nomination for “Young Performer of the Year” on 2017.

Well, onto the next chapter…

Playfully contemplative, introspective, transparent, relatable: these are some of the ways to describe John Muirhead’s new EP, Foundational. Most of the EP was recorded at Talbot College at Western University, in collaboration with producer/musician Alex Lam. Not only is it a great second entry, the 5 track EP tells a story about growth, both in life and in creative development. He does an excellent job expressing ideas and thoughts on identity, mental health, home, and times of change. The title of the EP perfectly describes this release as it speaks very much on where he came from with 2016’s Yesterday’s Smile to where he’s going with Foundational and beyond.

The lead single, “Passenger’s Side”, premiered on CBC London and was met with high praise from critics.

His follow-up single is the acoustic track, “Ambition”. Picture sitting by the riverbank, taking in everything around you while reflecting on what is, what could have been and what will never be. John gives you a looking glass perspective into how we all come to terms with reality, coping with decisions and sacrifices we make since time simply won’t allow for it. The impact of his wise lyrics are reinforced with the twang of the electric and acoustic guitar which only bring us deeper into ourselves. In his words, which sums it up flawlessly, “I’ll make it up to you, cuz I’ve got dreams but time don’t want me to”.

Picking a song at random, “Honeymoon Phase” is very evoking in how the lyrics take us deeper into his heart. It’s as easy to get lost in this song as it easy to get lost in that special someone, whether for the long haul or a fleeting glimpse of time. John does fantastic work putting into words what is often described as an indescribable feeling. The song carries the listener through the highs of a new romance, reaching a peak where the chorus and John’s melodic fingerstyle are interwoven with a delicate orchestra section. It’s a four minute slice of heaven that brings us back to those special moments of absolute warmth and bliss.

“Each song has its own distinct message and personality, allowing the listener to get to know me on a personal level by the time the EP is done.” – John Muirhead

Foundational is a gentle welcoming into the life and heart of John Muirhead, as a musician, a poet and a human being. It’s his sincerity and ability to convey expressionless emotions into deep, cozy, heartwarming songs that not only reflects himself but can resonate with listeners in an intimate, relatable way. The elements of rock on “Doubts” to the orchestra sections on “Honeymoon Phase” keep the sound diverse but organic and serve to reinforce how John presents his craft on this EP. If you’re looking for a feelgood listen that’s skillfully written, John Muirhead’s Foundational is sure to bring you a smile!

John is currently touring across Eastern Canada through the VIA Rail Artist on Board Program, and will be playing Ontario Folk Festival performances to promote his new EP.

Recommended reads: Ben Heffernan’s new EP “Home” is all heart.

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