Danette McMahon, No More Excuses Review


Danette McMahon, No More Excuses Review

by Constance Tucker

Danette-McMahon-All-About-Vocals-CDDanette McMahon’s debut album, No More Excuses, is a story of the threads of jazz, where each thread takes on the hues of history, emotion, and songwriting that intertwine to create a patchwork of life lived fully and unapologetically. At a juncture where many might contemplate the quietude of retirement, McMahon, in her 70s, ventures into the jazz realm, declaring No More Excuses for sidelining her jazz inclinations. Her journey, steeped in a rich musical pedigree that spans from enchanting clarinet melodies in junior high to the illustrious stages shared with legends, culminates in this album—a profound narrative of resilience, love, heartache, and introspection.

Crafted predominantly by McMahon, with the exception of two reimagined covers, “You and Me” by Dave Matthews and “Wonderwall” by Oasis, the album unfolds as a series of vignettes from McMahon’s storied life. These covers, transformed under McMahon’s deft arrangement and sultry delivery, have a new sound and feeling, melding seamlessly into the album’s jazz-infused fabric. This cohesion results from McMahon’s artistry, which is capable of redefining the familiar into something original and ensnaring.

Contrary to expectations of timbral aging, McMahon’s voice is a revelation in tone—resilient, nuanced, and imbued with a richness born of experience. It’s a voice that commands attention, not through sheer volume but through its expressive depth, shifting effortlessly from the playful provocation of “Naughty Girl” to the poignant reflection of “The Lady I Never Knew.” This versatility is based on technical accomplishment, but through emotional conviction, it becomes a narrative device, drawing listeners into each song’s unique story.

“Innocent Bystander” is interesting in its call to arms, urging engagement over apathy, and its lyrical tapestry is woven with the real-life encounters McMahon has observed. The call to action is palpable, underscored by a composition that beckons the listener to hear, feel, and respond. Similarly, “Come Dance With Me” encapsulates a romance birthed from shared laughter and dance, its Latin grooves embodying the song’s core invitation to love freely and to move beyond past hesitations.

Another highlight is “Life Goes On,” where McMahon poignantly captures the duality of her narrative voice. Here, personal heartbreak is juxtaposed against the universal facade of resilience, a song that speaks to anyone who’s had to mask their pain behind a professional veneer. Like many others on the album, this track showcases McMahon’s gift for storytelling, her ability to draw from personal experience to touch on universal truths.

The album also ventures into playfulness with “Naughty Girl,” a track that swings from the conventional to the risqué with a cheeky confidence. McMahon’s voice dances atop a backdrop of sassy jazz, encapsulating the joy of self-reinvention. It’s a departure that highlights the album’s thematic diversity, showcasing McMahon’s ability to navigate from the reflective to the jubilant with persuasion.

No More Excuses is an album that reflects a journey through McMahon’s life, each track a stop along a path marked by triumph, loss, love, and the relentless pursuit of dreams. Through her adept storytelling and compelling vocal delivery, McMahon invites listeners into her world, offering a seat at the table of her experiences.


Written by