Bangor native Stephen Macartney, or as we will learn to know him – King Cedar is set to release his debut album, Everything More & Other Stories. Previously known for his part in the alt-folk band Farriers, who experienced critical and commercial success with their album Years Ago in Our Back Yard, Macartney took himself off and started ‘King Cedar’ back in 2015.
Since then he has been quietly serving up nothing short of a songwriting master class, to those within certain music scenes will already be privy to. Finally ready to share this brilliance with the rest of us, Kind Cedar has teamed up with Grammy Award winner Andre De Santana to bring us his debut album, recorded a long way from home in sunny Los Angeles, Everything More & Other Stories drops this Friday, March 24th.
The first single from the album is ‘Songbird On The Gray Hill’. A tune capable of silencing a bustling room by the first chorus. When speaking about the song, Macartney said, “’Songbird On The Gray Hill’ was written for a friend of mine, who was in the hospital and needed cheering up. She’d broken her arm pretty bad, so I sent her the song in a little voicemail on my phone, and I think it worked”.
That song later went on to be recorded “in a house on a mountain, somewhere in Montana”, says Macartney. He went on to share how he found an old 1940s Recording King Guitar in the basement of the house he and his friends were staying in. This fortunate find accompanied by the inspirational setting outside went a long way in helping to create the song. Macartney said “It was a magical time on that mountain, so much joy and creativity. It really felt like the perfect moment to record Songbird.”
When looking for standout moments on in the album look no further than a song titled ‘Holding Out For California’. This exquisitely simple little song is almost heart-breaking to listen to, in a curiously uplifting kind of way. It’s a melancholic song fans of old country guitar slingers could expect to find coming from the mind of Townes Van Zandt. The fingerpicking style is perfectly accompanied by the slow-building, gentle sounds of a violin that strategically targets your heartstrings, giving them a good pull while driving the song to another level. It’s the type of song that will make you miss a lover you haven’t even met yet.
Another noteworthy song worth pointing out is the almost gloomy yet fun little song ‘This Was Your Life’. It’s a very catchy number that thrives on some wonderfully composed bass, taking us for a walk throughout the track and serving as the perfect rhythmic backbone. The song has an old-fashioned feel to it – you could virtually imagine this playing on a small analogue TV during an infomercial in purgatory, showing you a highlight reel of your life while some sketchy salesman shows you what’s to come next. It provides one of the catchiest moments of the album with the lyrics “This was your life, wasn’t it lovely”. Undoubtedly one to hit the repeat button on.
In all, It’s a genuinely strong debut from a notoriously solid singer-songwriter. The album only holds nine tracks, but is jam-packed full of moments other albums filled to the brim could only dream of. It’s more than a collection of songs, it acts as a collection of stories. They would fit perfectly in the corner of a modest, fire-lit bar, yet equally as suitable for larger halls and packed-out arenas. If this album marks the opening act of King Cedar, then we should all keep a very close eye and eager ear on what’s to follow.
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