SoundTrack Web Extra: Chad Mackey

If you like breezy, upbeat, thoughtful pop (Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson, ALO), then you need to check out local singer/songwriter Chad Mackey who just released his new album, If the World is Listening… at Firestorm Cafe. Its official drop date is Tuesday, June 22.

The CD opens with the foot-tapping cymbals and electric guitar-studded “Living in the Moment,” which balances an expansive, philosophical life view with pop culture grounding. “Tell me about your vampires and I’ll tell you about my songs,” he sings.

“A Billion Souls” also underscores Mackey’s positive outlook, pairing surf-folk rhythms, pretty guitar licks and a syncopated, catchy refrain: “Cause I got another billion souls, backing me up while I’m out of control. Save us now before we get too old, we’re not that many, just a a billion souls.”

There’s a bouyant urban-lite feel to many of the songs, vaguely reminiscent of LFO’s “Summer Girls,” only Mackey’s lyrics have substance, delving into family and friends, the tenderest emotions and the process of growing up (the musician is in his early 20s). Mackey’s comfy, friendly tenor lifts easily into falsetto, and he sings with such fluid agility that it’s easy to overlook his skill as a vocalist. And that’s a good thing: A singer who constantly calls attention to vocal acrobatics can be exhausting. Mackey, on the other hand, has found his stride and turns out consistently good songs.

“In Love,” a track that begins with a reference to a couple in their 90s, is not exactly a misstep — it would be right at home on top-40 radio — but less-cliche numbers like “Blue” (with the simple, poignant chorus, “Blue isn’t my color”) and “Grateful” (a clear fan fave on the musician’s Web site — listen to it below) prove that Mackey has the chops to reach beyond the expected and the emotionally cloying.

Listen to the whole album — there are some gems buried late in the playlist. “Sun in the Windows” balances perfectly-placed minor keys, shimmering percussion and a gorgeous electric guitar riff with sweetly romantic sentiment.

A solid collection from start to finish, If the World is a great sophomore effort (he previously released a self-titled album with the Chad Mackey Band) from a promising singer/songwriter.

Mackey will be back at Firestorm on Friday, July 23, 7 p.m. Find more dates on his MySpace page.

Listen to “Grateful,” here:

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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