Peter MacDonald is a singer/songwriter based in Syracuse, New York, who’s just released his debut EP titled Nothing, which he describes as “Alternative with hints of rock, electronic, folk and soul thrown in for good measure.”
MacDonald has been a musician nearly his entire life, starting off with violin as a kid, then moving to guitar at 13 and finally earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in music. He’s performed live in various American cities including Chicago, Nashville and New York City. MacDonald works by day as a mental health nurse, and has used his music as “a form of cathartic expression” for his own mental health struggles and life observations, “in the hopes of healing both himself and his audience.” Recording took place at the Electric Wilburland Studios in Ithaca, New York.
“Punching Bag” literally punches through the speakers with slabs of rocking guitar, prominent melodic bass and solid drumming. The song has a main riff similar to David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” while the overall feel is more along the lines of John Mellencamp. MacDonald has a great rock voice with lots of range and emotion, and this song’s an instant hit. The middle section guitar “solo” is raw and melodic like both George Harrison and Lou Reed. The second track “Far From Perfect” comes as a shock, as it’s a slower, bluesy tune that sounds a lot like The Doors. MacDonald’s voice has a pleasing Jim Morrison low-end growl and his guitar sports a Robby Krieger shimmer.
“Trap Star” retains the Morrison vocal sound for a more modern, alternative-style tune with a fun rolling rhythm and smart, amusing lyrics. MacDonald again creates a solid rock background for his vocals, and everything sits exactly where it should be within the mix. “Here I Am” brings acoustic guitars into the picture for the first time, and unsurprisingly they are beautifully performed and recorded. Like most of these songs it’s a paean to self-empowerment but MacDonald has an amazing knack of making such sentiments enjoyable and even commercial.
“I Want to Get Out” ends this short collection with a jazzy, soulful tune featuring a vocal worthy of Darryl Hall or (especially) Sting. The lyrics come fast with barely a breath or a break; toward the end MacDonald actually stops and then restarts with a closing coda in a slightly different tempo. It’s a perfect, understated yet powerful capper to this fine EP.
Though some of MacDonald’s references are obvious, he has the chops to pull them off with confidence and style. Well worth a listen!