Hunter Mcintosh is a Chattanooga songwriter who finds a particular beauty and emotional resonance is simple arrangements and the reverberations from the strings of his acoustic guitar. But don’t be fooled by the unadorned construction; he imparts a devastating familiarity that catches you off guard. You’re instantly hooked by his relaxed approach and want to peer deeply into the shimmers and echoes of his music while reveling in the details and heartfelt ache poured into every word.
On his previous release, the 4-track “X-9” EP, he experimented with some subtle ambient rhythms and psychedelic flourishes, never crowding the music but looking to shade their singer-songwriter aesthetic. Those songs weren’t dense but did convey a sense of loose exploration, of late nights spent flipping through old records and mp3s. He still based it all on a seasoned acoustic foundation, but the edges of the songs were frayed and beautifully worn.
On his new EP, “Chattanooga Songs,” he loses some of the lite-psychedelia and ambient sounds that marked “X-9” and focuses on the space between his voice and an acoustic guitar. These 5 songs are stripped down but aren’t devoid of oceans of emotion and experience—he’s quite successful at packing substantial meaning and feeling into songs that are built from the barest musical elements. He even brings in some drums on a few songs, giving them a slightly more muscular appearance and tone.
And while the lack of information doesn’t allow me to make broad statements about the circumstances around their recording, I can say that “Chattanooga Songs” feels borne from early morning bedroom sessions and a desire to unpack a cluttered mind after a busy day. But rather than detract from their impact, these lo-fi textures heighten the sense of confession and intimacy that Mcintosh is able to build into each track. It’s minimalist but not lightweight, finding purpose and determination in his conversational moods and folksy atmospheres.
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.