At the beginning of 2020, Meg Mac already had a third album ready to go. A follow-up to her 2019 release Hope, the Australian singer-songwriter had it all in place before she decided to nix two of the lead singles. Preferring her voice memos to the finished tracks, Mac needed to start over. She relocated to the remote village of Burrawang in New South Wales, Australia, to write songs in a moment she described as “a bit of a meltdown.”
Returning to her collection of songs, everything was scrapped with the exception of one song, “Matter of Time.” The track became the title of her new album.
“[It’s] funny it ended up being the title, but it’s perfect,” Mac tells American Songwriter. “I was singing about how unhappy I was, how I had this desire to make something amazing, and it was only a matter of time before I snapped. Eventually I did snap, so this song is so important to my story.”
Matter of Time is a moment in Mac’s life when things were off-kilter and needed a reassessing. “I wanted to just start again and do everything without compromise,” says Mac of Matter of Time. The project includes songs written with Sam De Jong (Muse, Maisie Peters), PJ Harding (Noah Cyrus) and Jesse Shatkin, who also co-wrote Sia’s 2014 hit “Chandelier.”
“I needed a switch-up to find the love for music again and it worked,” shares Mac. “Now for the first time, I really feel in control.”
The sound of the album, she says, came down to her collective team of musicians and the production of Tyler Mehlenbacher and Sergiu Gherman (The Donuts), who have worked with H.E.R., Kendrick Lamar, and SZA.
“They were somehow able to take my original ideas and transform them into these sometimes very dramatic moments,” says Mac, “without losing the energy and emotion of the voice memos.”
Originally working around 16 songs, Mac chose the 10 that, if left out, would break her heart. Like a premonition, everything Mac began writing about started to come true from her opening sermon of seclusion “Is It Worth Being Sad”—Tell me is it worth being sad about now / Now I’ve had so much time / Finally I got away / From everyone a great escape — through the more heart-swelling “Understand.” Throughout, Matter of Time leaves a spotlight on Mac’s stirring vocals, punctuated by prodding lyrics, an open call to the complexities, anxiety and reparation after falling apart.
“On your Mind” works around the meditative beats of the title track while “Don’t You Cry” and “Lifesaver” are more slowed precursors for the closing breakthrough of “Head on the Pillow.”
Set to start the European leg of her tour at on November 22, which will take her into the spring of 2023, Mac is still basking in Matter of Time, and open to whatever comes next.
“I’m not even thinking about songs as a whole right now, just on the hunt for inspiration and ideas for the next project,” shares Mac. “I have learned the hard way it’s best to become clear on the vision before moving forward, [to] take my time and eventually it will start to make sense. I’m really excited about what I’ve pieced together so far though.”
Thinking back, five years earlier Mac had just released her debut Low Blows. The project earned her a J Awards nomination for Australian Album of the Year.
“It’s crazy how much can change,” says Mac of the time that has passed. “I am a completely different person. I’d say everything I have regretted from making music in the past I tried to remedy when making this album—down to believing in my ideas, who I worked with and not making any compromises at any point in the process.”
Photos: Isaac Brown / Erika Tooker PR