I am beyond excited to finally be able to tell you all about Mac Kish’s debut album, ‘Forest Fire’. Full disclosure, I’ve had this album for about two months and have listened to it more than a few times during that period but couldn’t tell you about it because, well, it wasn’t out yet. It’s out now and I feel like now is a great time to go on this journey with you!
This eight-track album starts with “Bleed Out”. You are instantly struck by Mac’s vocals when this track starts. They are raw in all of the right ways and really show a sensitive side to this musician through not only the delivery of said words but also the words in general. Joined by just a fairly simplistic acoustic guitar strumming along at the beginning, you hear a sense of growth throughout the first minute until the sound of layered vocals and a slide guitar come in. Even with this addition, there’s something so naked and vulnerable about this track that will leave you absolutely stunned and completely lost for words in the beauty of it all.
“Ruminating” continues with the same vibe laid out in the opening track but Mac’s voice brings a bit of a bigger sense of strength to the table in this song. Again, it was the lyrics that struck me on this track. The phrases create a sense of poetry without being an outright poem which is an aspect of Mac’s sound that I adore. Beyond the new found strength in the vocals is the full band sound that comes with this song. The addition of drums and an almost choral feeling with some group “oh’s” and “ah’s” is just the icing on the cake when it comes to this song.
We continue to see Mac’s sound and style evolve in the third track, “Craters on the Moon”. Much like the song title may infer, there’s something other-worldly and almost haunting about this track. An eerie soundscape persists throughout this four minute track leaving you with a unique sound in the background while Mac’s vocals and the simplistic yet well throughout guitars soar above it all. The layers throughout this song are lush and truly transport you to another place but it’s not necessarily a happy place. The emotion and heaviness in this track is deafening but in all of the right ways to give you some time to just reflect on things that may have been bugging you lately. Much like the previous tracks, there’s a gorgeous build throughout this song that erupts right around the three minute mark and completely shifts this track. I’m obviously not going to give it away but I truly urge you to stick this one out and hear the genius that comes through with the composition in the song.
“Bloody Knuckles” signifies the half way point of this album but also shows that Mac still has plenty of tricks up his sleeve. I might be crazy but I hear an almost staccato styled violin part hidden in the guitar work in the beginning of this song that instantly had me intrigued. With a more simplistic vibe like that heard in “Bleed Out”, I loved the way there were plenty of breaks and pauses throughout the song. These breaks add a sense of tension that, although tense, have this way of adding beautiful space throughout this song as if giving you a chance to catch your breath. I feel like Mac’s vocals definitely go back to that raw and heart-on-sleeve style heard in that first song but there’s also more depth in them and an almost deepness in his voice that keeps it feeling like a carbon copy. Much like in “Crater on the Moon”, there’s a surprise ending to this song that instantly made it a favorite of mine so make sure to listen to the whole track.
The title track, “Forest Fire” seems to blend some of the atmospheric elements heard in “Craters on the Moon” with an almost more lo-fi indie beat. There’s something a bit more commercialized about this track and definitely a bit more poppy which I was here for. Although I was loving this entire album, it was nice to get out of my feelings for a second and just get a little bit of bounciness of Mac with this track. Although at face value this is a much more positive song, the lyrics continue to give you a sense of depth and emotion throughout this track.
“She Always Holds It In” seems to continue with that more accessible indie pop vibe but with an almost surf rock guitar style which is clearly just another trick up Mac’s sleeve. Another completely irresistible song with an infectious vibe to it, I loved how Mac’s vocals felt so raw against the more upbeat instrumentation. I have to be honest, there were moments throughout this song where I felt like maybe the vocals were a little out of tune but, after listening to the track a couple of times, I realized I wouldn’t have it any other way. The perfect imperfections gave this song a sense of personality that is definitely a highlight of Mac’s talent and somehow add that special something to this track in general.
Second to last on ‘Forest Fire’ is “Human Being” which goes back to the more classic singer-songwriter vibe that Mac Kish does so well. Even with going back to the more bare bones sound, I found a sense of energy in this song. Add Mac’s distinct style of vocals and you are left with a very stunning piece of art that I honestly think could have either opened or closed this album perfectly. There’s something victorious and full of life about this track but also something raw and full of emotion. I feel like a broken record but, again, I was struck by the vulnerability that I could feel throughout this song.
“International Dive” is the final piece on this album and, even though the last song, I feel like Mac is still throwing some curve balls with this final track. Echoed vocals and more complicated guitar work make this a good ending song but also a track that makes you want to go back and start the album all over again due to the energy and love it fills you with. Much like we heard in “Bloody Knuckles”, Mac takes his time with this song creating a sense of space for you to just sit back and reflect on the journey that you just had through this album.
‘Forest Fire’ is absolutely a journey. It’s a rollercoaster ride of emotions and sounds with some of the most drastic compositions I’ve heard in a long while yet somehow it all worked perfectly. There are moments of imperfect perfection, moments of eerie silence, and moments of danceable beats. It takes a true talent to pull this all off in one album but Mac Kish has done it and I can not wait to see what the future holds for this truly talented musician.
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