Amiable Music from Minnesota
This CD came to me in such plain guise that I assumed it was a first effort from some teen or college guy trying to get a foot in the door. The jacket is single-fold cardboard and lists just tracks, band members, and recording studio, along with a brief note of gratitude: "Thank you to all the fans and family and friends that keep me inspired to keep singing. I'll keep singing." Heartfelt, just as the album turned out to be.
But it also turns out that Minnesotan Tim Mahoney had a fleeting moment of fame and controversy when he appeared on NBC's The Voice in 2011. The show has the judges doing blind listening, their oversized chairs turned away from the performer. When one of the judges hears something he or she likes, they push a button and turn around to face the performer and become their coach. Maroon 5's Adam Levine spun his chair around expecting to find a girl, and he found Mahoney, a tall Irishman in his 30s.
Mahoney ultimately lost on The Voice to pretty 18-year-old Casey Weston. Displaying his sense of humor and ability to keep going, Mahoney penned "Hey Adam Levine," and it's the closing song on Shine Through. "Hey, Adam Levine / You thought I was a chick / Guess what, I have a ..." Then he challenged Levine toward the end: "Hey Adam Levine / You thought I was chick / You know it'd be totally sick / If you would sing a song about me." A challenge thus far not met.
Mahoney writes and sings mostly about the American scene. Since his songs sound a lot like '70s hits, he might not make it big with the people who produce The Voice and other programs of that ilk, but he has developed a strong local audience in Minnesota. If Shine Through gets properly heard, he could very well have a sizeable audience throughout the Heartland and beyond.
His somewhat torn and tattered falsetto doesn't sound at all like a chick to me; it sounds like a guy who has experienced life and is sharing it through his songs. He sounds totally genuine in his simple yet eloquent writing and in his heartfelt performances. "It's Over" is a song about a survivor of the movie-theater shootings in Colorado whose partner did not make it, while "Shadow" is a funereal song about a relationship breakup. In songs like this, Mahoney displays a winning vulnerability and comes across as a guy next door whom you'd like to meet.
Musically, he writes tunes that go down easy. There are more good hooks in Shine Through than I have heard in the last four or five dozen CDs I've listened to. His professional-sounding backup band is great, too, as is the engineering. The sound is both warm and clean, and overall very appealing.
I'd seek out this CD and give it an audition. Mahoney might have lost out on The Voice, but then again, he might have won by losing. Mahoney was simply out of place on The Voice; his talent is too rich and personal to survive the inane, maniacal, hyped, and misguided scrutiny shows like that offer.
Be sure to listen to: In "Dancing in the Moonlight" Mandy Maietta contributes to the vocal mix, and her voice blends exceptionally well with Mahoney's. It's a very pleasing sound and a most appealing song.
. . . Rad Bennett