The first moments of Hugh Macdonald’s debut EP Mångata feel like an understatement. The singer-songwriter is capable of intense vocal bravado and an impressive manipulation of tone and range. Yet, “Cast & Broken” opens with a simple groove; little more than deadened drums, a bass line, and some light acoustic strumming. It’s very tasteful, a word which can be used to describe just about every second of Mångata. Macdonald spares his listener the tropes associated with skilled musicians, opting instead for an incredibly stripped approach.
Without the fireworks which are well within his ability, the focus of “Cast & Broken” is left on the songwriting, which feels both appropriate and refreshing. The form allows Macdonald and his band great dynamic freedom, starting with the gentle electric flourishes of the first verse, fading naturally into an exasperated catharsis – “I’d sell my soul for an hour of peace and quiet.” By the time we get the twangy, ominous guitar solo to close the track, it feels uncanny, both perfectly placed and novel. You might expect the opening cut to end with Macdonald emitting screams and slick runs, but no, he’s far more melodic. Few experienced songwriters have such patience.
You can listen to Hugh Macdonald’s debut EP, Mångata, on major streaming platforms.
Written by Preston Fulks