As the title of his debut album suggests, Austin, Texas-based singer-songwriter Tom Meny is definitely on his way. After being named the Southwest regional finalist for NPR’s 2012 Mountain Stage NewSong contest, making it to the Top 5 overall, scoring over 2 million YouTube views and getting name-dropped by none other than The Swell Season’s Glen Hansard, Meny is ready to unleash his Kickstarter-supported project on the world on February 19. And Meny isn’t the only one who is excited about this.
“We started this record with the idea that I was just going to do a five-song EP, just me on the acoustic guitar and singing,” Meny says. “After I heard about Kickstarter, I got a campaign going. Everyone was so supportive that I doubled the amount I was looking to raise, so that’s when I decided I needed to get serious and make a real CD—ten songs or more—and not just me playing the guitar and singing.”
Co-produced by Meny and Tim Casterline, On My Way’s ten songs are a vibrant mix of pop, rock and acoustic numbers that focus on everything from relationships to living life with no regrets. Though Meny takes his cues from the likes of John Mayer and Hansard in terms of his songwriting and sound, it’s not hard to miss hints of Johnny Rzeznik’s vocals and the Barenaked Ladies on the upbeat “Make Some Noise,” or the liveliness of bands like Blues Traveler or Sister Hazel on “I’m All In.” “Job” is at once tragic and hilarious as Meny sedately sings “I hate my effen job,” and on the album’s biggest highlight, the stirring ballad “No Anger,” Meny repeats the soulful refrain of “No anger/No envy/No fear/No regrets” to great effect. This last track is one of many on the album which resonate with Meny on a deep level.
“‘No Anger’ was inspired by a story Glen Hansard told at a concert I attended,” Meny says. “He was talking a bit before he played a traditional Irish song called ‘The Parting Glass,’ which talks about if you die and are able to come back while everyone is having your wake, and talk to the people in the room, you could say ‘Hey don’t worry about me, I’m fine.’ He used the phrase, ‘no anger, no envy, no fear, no regrets’ and it just stuck with me.”
Like “Job,” the song is closely tied to Meny’s journey to becoming a full-time musician, as he came to a point where his nights-and-weekends job was draining him, physically and mentally, and he wanted to engage in something meaningful. Returning to his guitar—which he began playing at age 10, but had not played much in recent years—was the start he needed, and everything went from there.
“I decided I wanted to just go for it,” he says. “I don’t have huge commitments which keep me from making this type of leap, so why not record an album and see what happens? You only live once, so that’s the song I use when I’m telling the story because it’s a ‘do everything you can now because you only live once’ kind of song.”
On My Way’s content is so interwoven into the fabric of Meny’s life that this refrain from “No Anger” even appears in the album’s penultimate song, “Road.” This lyrical choice helps bring a greater level of symmetry and depth to the album, highlighting Meny’s desire to live life in a way that is charismatic and filled with passion for what he does. By having no anger, no envy, no fear and no regrets, Meny hopes to ensure that his fans will seek out a similar direction for their own lives.