Monoganon is the recording moniker of Glaswegian singer-songwriter John B McKenna, now along with a cast of musicians backing him up to flesh out and re-work a selection of his earlier solo recordings. The tracks on this debut album are very much in the vein of troubadours like Iron and Wine or Andrew Bird, who tend to provide a much more varied and experimental take on the solo warbler blueprint.
Opening track ‘Monomania’ demonstrates this straight off, with the luscious entwining of acoustic and electric guitars with evocative wails of harmonica and McKenna’s distinctively modest voice which fits perfectly with the earnest delivery, as he repeats “he makes it all looks so easy”. Indeed the relaxed vibe here makes it seem as though this track just fell into place quite simply. This is something thread throughout, there’s a serenity intrinsic in McKenna’s vocals and the quietly expanding and altering arrangements evoke feelings of open landscapes unfettered by the noise of modern life. I think this is where the parallels to Sam Beam shine through most prominently in its organic atmosphere, alongside the often wry lyrics. There’s an understated elegance about Songs To Swim To, a quietly poignant demeanour which is its greatest attribute, it feels like a very honest expression of one individuals emotional states. At the heart of the lyrics are a sense of discontent and frustration that most people can relate to, a feeling that we ought to be doing more with our time, such as on Needle Green (“shaking like a leaf to the pulse of a routine”) or ‘Eternal See You Soon’ (“I had this funny feeling I won’t be living long”).