Review – “Back to the Wilderness” – Morgan MacDonald

reviewed by Eleni Armenakis

Morgan MacDonald is a world-traveling teacher hailing from Chester, NS. He’s also an incredibly talented folk musician who has just released his first EP, Back to the Wilderness. Looking a bit like a young Buck 65 (something in the water?), his sound couldn’t be more different. MacDonald’s acoustic driven, lyrically profound EP builds more on the East Coast’s folk/country vibe rather than Nova Scotia’s more modern hip hop or punk inclinations.

The first track, from which the EP takes its name, is a rolling, energetic opening number. The mid-section of the song really showcases MacDonald’s skill as a guitarist—the unassuming solo is melodic and powerful. The instrumental side of the track contrasts with the lyrics of “Back to the Wilderness”, which sees MacDonald dwelling on death. The juxtaposition manages to express grief but focuses on the celebration of life.

“Blood Will Rust”, the second track, feels much more country. MacDonald drops his voice, and even gives the impression of a twang as he picks his guitar. Lyrically the song is again stunning, taking on the storytelling vibe of country music and asking some serious questions about modern life.

“The Fences” looks back to a more innocent childhood, and the ways in which the world has changed and become more guarded. Musically the song is much softer—MacDonald takes the emphasis away from the guitar and focuses on the ballad instead. “More Than Just the Stars” begins with a craving to leave—first the small town and then the big, indifferent city—almost as a response to “The Fences” and the youthful need to leave and travel. While “The Fences” has ruled out ever being able to go home, “More Than Just the Stars” chronicles the onset of longing to be able to.

Instrumentally, MacDonald’s work is absolutely exquisite. A couple of extra listens reveal the depths of his lyrics, and with this debut EP, MacDonald gives every indication that great things are yet to come from him.

Top Tracks: “Back to the Wilderness”; “More Than Just the Stars”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) + *swoop*

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