Modern Nomad isn’t here to waste time. Less than 4 months after the release of his psychedelic masterpiece, A Trip to Magic Hotel, Tom McLean is back with 4 new singles. Releasing a new track each week in September, the songs are in tune with the changing of the seasons. Fighting through that transitory period as summer fades into fall, he distills the shifting and shuffling that comes with moving from one phase to the next. His gentle musings and deep introspection lead you on a slow but steady path to finding where you need to be.

The first single, “Rearranging,” feels like a constant headache. Needing some time to figure things out and just wanting to be left alone, McLean admits ‘I don't know what to do with all this time/you know it's true and I can just see right through.’ Despite trying to change he finds himself slipping into isolation, falling into bed, and ignoring the looming question of what to do next. Drained by the discomfort of readjustments, the song sways with a docile passivity. The claustrophobic chatter continues, overtaking his moment of deep reflection and still leaving him lacking direction.

However, with “Say” there is a sudden shift to the softer side. Vowing to try and find the beauty in things, “Say” feels like waking up and realizing you’ve been looking at the world upside down your whole life and you’re finally seeing it right side up. Appreciating all the overlooked beauty surrounding him, he confesses that it’s been there all along and all he had to do was open himself up and experience it. The song marks a turning point for McLean, no longer resigned to the stoicism of “Rearranging,” it feels like he’s finally coming out of the doldrums, and all of these little life altering realizations are pushing him somewhere brighter.

Diving head first into happiness, “Give It Up” abandons all restraint. Like pure sunshine, there’s a feeling of absolute radiance that makes the whole track glow. Surrendering to this newfound optimism, McLean beams ‘people need love all around give them sounds/so people wake up there's no bluff life is rough/and even these days can't complain, it's a game/so gather around people down help them up.’ Feeling like the breakthrough he’d been struggling to find, there’s an instant inexplicable rush of joy. Shaking off the past he seems to melt into the all consuming love and inner peace he’s discovered.

Resuming his wanderings on “Open Your Mind,” McLean is back where he belongs. A 60’s groove fueled by hippie power, there’s the sudden urge to jump into his magic bus and never look back. A true flower child, he promises ‘you know you must/just come with us/and open/open your mind/your love with us/it will blossom/blossom, it will/so come with us our magic bus is here.’ Crafting this post-beatnik utopia, he takes on the role of a modern day guru leading you to enlightenment. Drifting around the country preaching peace, there’s a sense that Modern Nomad has finally found a home of sorts, even if it’s not a permanent dwelling but simply a place in the universe.

Stuck in the 21st century, McLean’s free spirit feels straight off of a retro Haight Ashbury. Someone you’d expect to meet twirling at Woodstock and handing out flowers, he poses a certain bohemian nostalgia. Facing the difficult questions of who you are and what you’re meant to do, McLean proves that all you really need is love.


samantha sullivan