Paul McDonald’s voice is immediately recognizable and impossible to ignore. Often compared to legends like Rod Stewart and Bob Dylan, his songs are relatable and universal. The poetic story-driven narratives and deeply catchy hooks in his music are delivered by a raspy yet refined voice reminiscent of another era yet that demands to be heard right now. He pulls off the rare feat of being a poet, visual artist, songwriter, adamant performer, and a powerful vocalist. Born in Auburn, Alabama, he was raised on southern rock with bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers, roots, country, and gospel music intertwined with the late 60's Laurel Canyon scene. He has been inspired by the authenticity and artistry of his heroes like Tom Petty, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, and Jackson Browne.
As a child, Paul was obsessed with everything music related, but never considered the idea of being a musician until his father bought him a guitar for Christmas at the age of 15. He immediately started writing his own songs and playing shows around town and in high school talent shows, but it was still more of a hobby and form of self-expression than a career path. In college, he joined the school’s gospel choir and toured all through the southeast performing at small southern Baptist churches. “It was one of my favourite seasons of life. I learned how to tune in with the higher power and sing from the soul.” During this time, he was still writing his own songs and was pushed once again by friends to start playing in bars and local venues around town. By his early 20's he had started a band and was touring and making records full-time. “It all seemed to happen pretty quick and naturally. I’ve been carrying around a guitar since I was a kid, and as soon as I ever tried to go in a different direction (he was two classes away from majoring in Biomedical Sciences at Auburn University), the universe would always pull me right back to the music. It was like I was supposed to be writing songs and playing shows for the rest of my life. There was no other option….and I haven’t looked back ever since.”
Although his life on the road in his 20’s was necessary for his growth and understanding the ropes of the business (he was playing almost 250 shows a year), all good things have to come to an end. After years of fronting various rock and alt-country rock bands including The Grand Magnolias and Hightide Blues, Paul was on the search to find his own voice. He moved to Los Angeles in 2010 to work with major labels and established pop & rock producers, experimenting with different sounds and genres and leaning into the art of co-writing, but after a few years and a few albums that were never released, he decided that the pace of the East Nashville community was more his speed. He moved back home in 2014 and with the help from his peers and producer Jordan Lehning, he released his solo debut "Modern Hearts" in 2018, which introduced a more alternative rock approach and brought him widespread exposure through tours across the U.S.,a record deal with Vacancy Records in the U.K , along with song placements in major motion pictures, commercials, with songwriting cuts on other major artist records.
‘Modern Hearts’ is a result of years of personal experiences, good and bad. This record is Paul hitting rock bottom and then slowing crawling out of that hole. “It was getting back to basics and collaborating with friends, remembering why I make music in the first place, and then finally arriving on a sound that felt like home.” This may be a ‘break up’ album, but it’s more about rebirth and bursts with serious hooks and anthems; desperation is tempered with introspection and, ultimately, redemption.
Paul’s hope & mission is to spread peace, love, and unity through his music. Connection & community through song. He’s currently writing for his next album and is planning on getting back in the studio in 2022.