Ready Now CD Review by Bandhumor.net After taking over a year to make, Jimmy McDonald’s debut EP, Ready Now, is now ready for your listening pleasure. Okay I know that was a lame pun but I couldn’t resist; it’s not often that a CD...
Ready Now CD Review by Bandhumor.net After taking over a year to make, Jimmy McDonald’s debut EP, Ready Now, is now ready for your listening pleasure. Okay I know that was a lame pun but I couldn’t resist; it’s not often that a CD review intro basically writes itself you know? It’s also not often that a homegrown debut EP sounds as good or contains such well-written songs as this…or maybe I’m just used to hearing god-awful EP’s from crappy metal bands. Either way this is a very solid, albeit small, collection of songs that demonstrates both Jimmy’s current talent and his future potential.
Crazy starts the disc off right with a tempo that you can tap your foot to and a hook that you’ll remember after the first time you hear it. This melody repeats itself plenty of times throughout the song but it never gets old, which means that Jimmy wrote a good one here. Lyrically it’s a song that a lot of us can relate to, seemingly describing a relationship that goes to the extremes on both ends of the spectrum (“You frustrate me, god I hate you/When are you coming home/Stay away, I love you”). Speaking of which, McDonald’s lyrics throughout Ready Now don’t stray far from the old standbys of love and relationships. This serves as a double edge sword of sorts because it ensures that his songs are honest and easily relatable but the subject matter can also get monotonous and it might make you wonder if he can write about anything else.
Despite the similar lyrical theme that runs through the disc, Jimmy does have a way with his words and it is something that is evident on the next track, Stay. He describes a relationship with a girl that is just friendly but could easily, and hopefully, be something more (“We’re just one good excuse from lovers away”). As he sings the words “stay, stay, stay” in the chorus, a guitar line harmonizes along with him. It sounds like he’s using a slide as well, giving the melody a distinct and overall nice sound. The 6/8 time signature also suits the song well and makes it stand out as a sort of ballad but definitely not in a bad way.
Bringing the upbeat feel back is New Reality. This track is very catchy with good chord progressions and some great guitar work towards the end. Love Is Real comes up next, a short and bittersweet song describing Jimmy’s unrequited feelings towards a girl and his hope that she’ll feel the same someday (“Maybe love is real/maybe you were right”). Both the vocal melodies and delivery on this track are fitting and set the perfect vibe for the story that McDonald is telling.
Empty Hands is the fifth cut and gets things back to a somewhat happier place. The chorus here is very good, carrying the song and keeping it strong throughout. There’s also a great middle part that has Jimmy using some different chords, which helps to change the atmosphere up a little bit and keep it from getting bland. Wrapping up Ready Now is Forever Mine and it is easily my favorite song on the disc. Jimmy trades in his bright and lively guitar riffs for somber piano melodies that are simultaneously depressing and amazing. I’ll be honest, I’m jealous; I wish I had written this. The fact that I’m a sucker for almost any piano piece in a minor key probably makes me a little biased, but this really is a great song and ends the EP on a note that you’d never expect no pun intended this time.
After listening to Ready Now you can hear why it took McDonald so long to complete it. Granted there might only be six tracks on it but they are all well crafted and well arranged. McDonald has a very soothing voice and never gets overly powerful; this is fine since the music never really calls for these types of vocal dynamics. It’d be interesting to see how he would sound if he put a little more “oomph” in his technique though. Another minor complaint is that the vocals sometimes are too up front and drown out the guitar; listen to the intro of Stay for an example of this. It might be a minor detail but things like this can really take away from the overall sound if artists aren’t careful. Considering that Jimmy is working on his next release with a full band, this EP is a great building block and will most likely help him find the right balance for the instruments on the next CD.
With people comparing him to Jason Mraz and his fans calling him “John Mayer with a better personality”, you can see that Jimmy’s held within good company but he also has some big competition as well. He definitely has a lot of promise though and it will be exciting to see what he comes up with next, especially with a full band. There are tons of singer/songwriters out there, but I think Jimmy McDonald easily stands out in the current sea of acoustic wielding warriors and will continue to do so.
Highlights: Crazy, Stay, Forever Mine
Skippables: If you can’t listen to less than 20 minutes of music without skipping a track then you need to refill your prescription of vitamin R.
Similar Artists: Tony Lucca, Curtis Peoples
Artist Website: www.jimmymcdonald.net
Myspace Page: www.myspace.com/jimmymcdonald
Arbitrary Numerical Score: 8 out of 10