Americana artist Paul McDonald first caught the public’s attention on American Idol Season 10, with his sparkly Nudie suits, raspy vocals, abandoned dance moves, and adventurous song choices. After leaving the show, he continued to work hard on his excellent original music, but a high-profile celebrity marriage, followed by a high-profile divorce in 2014, unfortunately overshadowed his artist output.
However, as McDonald, after the dissolution of his former band and a move to Nashville, prepares to release his solo debut, the breakup album Modern Hearts, the man clearly has gotten his mojo back. Following the release of “Call on Me” and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” (recorded for a Ram Truck commercial), McDonald is premiering the attitudinal, confessional new track “Hold On” today via Yahoo Music’s Reality Rocks.
“‘Hold On’ is a song about an ex who could never stay single for longer than a few weeks,” McDonald tells Yahoo. “She was always bouncing from relationship to relationship, and changing her personality and opinion depending on whoever she was with at the time. The song was my attempt to not only get out my frustrations, but somehow inspire her to take a step back from her normal tendencies, rebuild her confidence as an individual, and learn how to love herself without being co-dependent on a partner.”
With straight-shooting lyrics like “You’re a high-heel drama queen/Drop out, smoking weed/But now you can do all that you want to,” “Money is on your mind/Always, all the time/But you don’t really have none, now, do you?/Lipstick on your lips/Red wine and cigarettes/Girl, it takes a mountain to move you,” and “When you gonna figure it out?/When you gonna learn to love yourself, girl?,” McDonald holds nothing back on “Hold On.”
The track was co-written with Nashville guitarist/producer Lincoln Parish and produced by Jordan Lehning (Caitlin Rose, Rodney Crowell, Andrew Combs) at Asheville, North Carolina’s Echo Mountain Studios — where most of the forthcoming Modern Hearts was recorded with an all-star cast of studio musicians whose credits include Cage the Elephant, James Bay, Shawn Mendes, Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves, Buddy Miller, and others.
Says McDonald of the making Modern Hearts during a very difficult period: “I had to take my life back and figure out who I was again. It took me a few years and a few hundred songs to get to that point… Writing helped me a lot during that time. I would wake up every morning in a dark headspace, but once I picked up the guitar and started writing, I’d tell myself, ‘I’m back.’ And as I gained my confidence back as a human being and as an artist, I started writing more upbeat and hopeful songs.”
Paul McDonald’s Modern Hearts is due out later this year.