John McDonough – Second Chances LP
Acoustic albums can either be met with resounding intrigue, or mild/polite aplomb. Some believe that acoustic is the purest form of musicality, others somewhat underwhelmed by the lack of energy. John McDonough had aspired to do an acoustic record, with renderings of tracks from previous albums. He has now achieved that, with the LP, Second Chances, slated for a March release. At 10 songs, Second Chances is a complete effort, and it digests like a full course meal.
Originally from Texas, McDonough spent the beginning of his career, plying his craft in Austin, before recently moving to Chicago. As with all Musicians, he was forced to make concessions, due to the pandemic. He was regularly touring and playing shows, before being curtailed by the mass shutdowns. During his off time, he focused on his writing, and tightening up his skills. Somewhere in there, Second Chances was birthed.
The overall sound quality on the record, leaves little room for critique. It captures McDonough at his most honest, and fully charged. The guitar is perfectly tuned for each individual song. The arrangements don’t drastically vary, from track to track, but all the right notes are hit, that allow McDonough’s voice to shine through. Everything sounds meticulously mixed, which makes Second Chances a viable contender for any and every potential opportunity.
“Nowhere Else To Run” has to be considered one of the emotional climaxes of the record. Can I put my head on your chest?/I don’t care what you’ve done. This lyric shivers with capitulation, as forgiveness is neutralized, or momentarily bargained away, simply to feel the warmth of another soul. The song speaks of having exhausted all of your escape routes, and enabling sanctuaries, leaving you with indeed, nowhere else to run. McDonough sings this one with such aching homologation, trying to remain strong for another, and himself
On “I Wish I Could Fly,” McDonough seems to liken himself to an international spy, as he bellows on about the “Russians” and the “Spanish.” It seems as though, he feels as if he has lived some sort of double life, and he can no longer stand the thought of such duality. I’ve been runnin, my whole life/I wish I could fly, it’s a great line that, universally resonates. John’s lyrical prowess is more than evident, on Second Chances. It’s probably equally as important to realize that he likely wrote these words, several years ago, yet still sings them with remarkable fervor.
John McDonough has delivered in a big way, here. There is a sense of sameness and repetition at some points. However, each song tells an entirely different story, and though it’s not always linear, it is certainly poignant. John’s vocals and the guitar playing are in top form, and he never seems uncertain of his next move, even if it isn’t reached in an orthodox manner. It’s safe to say that taking a chance on Second Chances, is more than worth it.