John McDonough uses his voice to full effect, much in the same way singer-songwriters of the past have used their voices as an instruments to express not only the words but the emotion and feeling of their songs. Listen to the opening track “The Place Where I Belong” from his album “Second Chances” is an excellent example of this form of singing. His voice is his instrument. Having said that, McDonough has also developed his own distinct guitar playing during the pandemic, and on this album he is in top form. He plays beautifully and the music is not only accessible, but quite memorable as well. All of which are acoustic version of his favorite songs from previous 2014 and 2016 album releases.
Joining John McDonough on this album is Kris Farrow (acoustic lead) and Cody Rathmell (backing vocals). The three combine their talents to interpret 10 songs that remain things of beauty, deeply thought and deeply felt, with an economy of sounds that balance urgency and patience, shimmer and substance, rhythm and ornament. A necessarily wordy album – McDonough, like other great songwriters, has a lot to say in these stories.
Though his songs could marinate in a number of styles depending on how you arrange and produce them, John McDonough real genre is the art of song-craft. All the humdrum inspirations and emotional tropes that come from personal life and love experiences, would become quickly exhausted in the hands of a lesser songsmith. McDonough has thrust his acoustic music into a new age where once again authenticity, writing and talent are supreme.
Thankfully, John McDonough is working with more than the standard folk-singer’s toolbox. His vocal inflections and his lyrics, develop organically and powerfully, alongside the strummed and picked acoustic guitars. From the smooth flowing strumming of “Tonight’s the Night”, and the gently picked “Your Love Sets Me Free”, to the building sweep of “I Wish I Could Fly” and the soulful slow burn of “Nowhere Else To Run” – which is an absolute standout – McDonough cements himself into the fabric of these songs.
This album is special. John McDonough exceeds even the highest expectations that this type of recording creates. The second half of the album does not wane in any way. Instead McDonough maintains his energy and momentum with equally impressive interpretations. From the urgent and resonating “I’m Home” and “Give Me One More Day To Say Goodbye”, to the dynamic and rhythmic “Save A Life”, McDonough’s vocals are raw and potent.
Though each and every song on this album is amazing in its own way, there are a few songs on the album that make people want to drop whatever is going on and just listen. “Planes Fly To Low” and the quieter “You Don’t Know This”, easily fall into that category. Overall though, “Second Chances” is 10 tracks of heartfelt entertainment.
ABOUT JOHN MCDONOUGH: John McDonough is a singer/songwriter from Austin, Texas (now living in Chicago, IL) who has spent the last 25 years playing in and around Austin while co-producing and self-releasing eight CD’s of original music. Nine years ago he decided to retire from practicing psychotherapy and focus solely on music. In that time he has written and recorded five new CD’s, played over 500 gigs, performed in eleven major music festivals, several times appeared and performed on local and national radio, and embarked on successful tours through the United States. His previous three releases, ‘Dreams and Imagination,’ ‘Surrounding Colors,’ and ‘Can You See Me Now’ all received great reviews and airplay all over Europe and the United States. All three releases spent six consecutive months on the Americana Music Association Record Chart as well as landing on other American radio charts.