One Track Mind: Lee MacDougall, "Joanna" (2011)

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Photo: Jim Lowe

A young guy who hails from a small town north of London armed with photo-friendly mop top looks, an acoustic guitar and a soulful voice, Lee MacDougall might be the next in a wave of male British singer-songwriter sensations following the golden-throated Paolo Nutini, and he hadn’t even made a full album yet. He has, however, made a 3-track CD released last year on iTunes, and now has a 10-track EP out, If Walls Could Talk.

MacDougall cites Oasis as a contemporary influence, as well as Rod Stewart, the Kinks and of course, The Beatles. But this particular tune—and the reason I single it out—is because it also captures the melodic essence of the long-forgotten power pop act Jellyfish. MacDougall has a burgeoning reputation for writing deeply personal songs, and he leverages his past as the leader of a heavy rock outfit to pen confessionals that packs a harmonic punch. Even on the self-produced Walls EP, where several of the songs are demos, you can sense this. However, “Joanna” comes across as a more finished product. As the narrator relates his plight of being dumped by his girlfriend, the song begins calmly and swells as the blows to the heart are delivered and absorbed. By the time he pleads “I’m sorry for being myself” the tension has risen to the boiling point. You can clearly detect the grief, anger and disbelief alternating in his voice, racing through all the same emotions we’ve all gone through when we’ve gotten kicked to the curb. It’s true what BBC radio host Tom Robinson says of MacDougall when he observes “you absolutely cannot fake that kind of sincerity and passion, and particularly the yearning quality to his vocals.”

If Walls Could Talk is currently only available on MacDougall’s live shows, so I can’t give you a link on where to purchase it. I can, however, tell you about his upcoming performances where they’ll be sold:

Seattle, WA El Corazon 04/08/11 8:00pm
Vancouver, BC Backstage Bar 04/10/11 8:00pm
Minneapolis, MN Cause Spirits and Soundbar 04/13/11 8:00pm
Chicago, IL Double Door 04/14/11 9:00pm
Dekalb, IL The House Cafe 04/15/11 7:30pm
Pittsburgh, PA Hard Rock Cafe 04/20/11 8:00pm
Albany, NY Valentine’s 04/21/11 6:00pm
NYC, NY The Bitter End 04/22/11 8:00pm
Wilmington, DE World Cafe Live at the Queen 04/23/11 7:00pm
Paris, France Espace B 05/06/11 8:00pm
Naples, Italy Twilight ItaCon 2 06/11/11 8:30pm

Most of us will have to wait until that fully-produced debut album finally comes out. When it does, watch out. Lee MacDougall might not have a lot of completely developed recordings out there yet, but his talents sound fully realized to me.

Pay a visit to Lee MacDougall’s site over here.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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