Album review: PAUL McDONALD – Modern Hearts

Vacancy Records [release date 01.10.21]

Alabama native and American Idol finalist, Paul McDonald was voted through to the Hollywood “play off” by no less than Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson.

It was a mark of the man. Where others went for safety, choosing well known chart material, he sang his own composition, ‘American Dreams’. His subsequent aim for fame with his band, Grand Magnolias, in the real world, was a slow burn.

More recently, reeling from the acrimonious breakup of his marriage, he recorded this raw, reflective, self penned solo album, Modern Hearts (2017). It’s now been reissued with 2 bonus tracks in an Expanded Deluxe Version.

We’re in the movie, witnessing events, hearing the story first hand. The narrative slices away at the vagaries of modern living and its impact on our lives. McDonald tells his confessional tales honestly and with a welcome lack of self pity.

His scorched voice and world weary personal place him firmly in the old school style of Rod Stewart and Frankie Miller… the full throated opener, ‘New Lovers’ is melodic, muscular and often tender.
It’s followed by several lightning bolts of musical brilliance. ‘Hold On’, a slight song worked up into a mammoth piece of rock’n'roll by producer Jordan Lehnning, is an exciting synchronisation of rock and pulsing beats and soaring synths. It’s a roaring soundtrack to the intrusion of reality.
‘Wildcard’ is something that Rod Stewart could propel into anyone’s Top Forty. McDonald’s achingly yearning vocals take us on a sombre, unhurried journey
through the desolate emotional landscape created when lovers decide it’s all over.

And so it goes. It’s as much a fascinating, almost voyeuristic experience as it is an outstandingly good rock album.
Eventually McDonalds’ painful excursions into the past are acquainted with the natural born rush that comes when life reinvents itself. As much has anyone can be said to have triumphed in the face of adversity, then McDonald is that man. And that truly is doing it the hard way. ****

reviewed by Brian McGowan

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Featured Albums w/c 18 October 2021 (Mon-Fri)

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12:00-13:00 LEVERAGE Above The Beyond (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 JOE TILSTON Tightrope (Our Records)

Power Plays w/c 18 October 2021 (Mon-Fri)

ABOVE SNAKES Nothing To Lose (indie)
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LEADFINGER The Fall Of Rome (Golden Robot)
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