Following in the footsteps of artists like Wilco and Ryan Adams, Chattanooga musician Kyle MacKillop finds purpose in the smallest details of his indie folk aesthetic, resulting in a languid mix of shivering guitar lines and heartstring-tugging narratives. There’s sentiment in excess but no unnecessary sentimentality. The shake of his countrified acoustic-electric rhythms highlight both the viability of his excursions into these familiar sounds and the unique ways they can be turned to serve different ambitions.
And it’s through this amalgam of sounds borrowed from country, folk and indie rock that he finds a resolve to his bucolic instincts. The music is fascinated with everyday experiences: the slow shuffle of feet as they walk in the opposite direction, the loss of dearly held love between two people and the internal mechanics that fuel the desire to prove your own self-worth. He’s not looking for easy answers, nor does he provide any assurance that resolution may come in the future, but there is hope for better things, for something to shelter under that exists just beyond our sight.
On his latest collection of songs, a four-track EP called “Sit Around in Silence,” MacKillop further develops this alt country rumble, turning the familiar slides and hums into an intimate examination of personal determination and the lengths we go to to hold on to love. His voice is like a collection of freely spinning gears and cogs, a smooth machine capable of producing effortless motions and heartbreaking revelations. The title track leads the way, with him channeling the spirits of The Jayhawks and My Morning Jacket, resplendent in a wash of luxuriant melodies and rustic rhythms.
Songs such as “Unknown and Unseen” and “Something” continue to plumb this deeper musical introspection. Under his watchful gaze, the music rises and falls in precise and affecting patterns, but there’s also a ramshackle emotionality to these tracks, the kind of diligent, folk-inspired passion that so few musicians seem capable of exerting. He closes the set with “A Reason,” an electrified piano romp that feels both casual and barbed in its evocation of a broken home life. It takes a hard look at the consequences of the events that befall us and those we allow ourselves to fall into. MacKillop captures these transitory moments perfectly, with all the nuance and honesty we’ve come to expect.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.