Paul McDonald Reflects on Heartache in the Digital Age with "Modern Hearts" (premiere)

Photo courtesy of the Press House

Paul McDonald explores the deepest trenches of modern heartbreak on "Modern Hearts".

Paul McDonald's artistic soul has labored itself across all manner of peaks and valleys to get to where it is today. He's seen high highs, performing alongside the likes of Stevie Wonder and Emmylou Harris between gigging on Good Morning America, The Tonight Show, and Parenthood. Although, this singer-songwriter has also proved that finding success in the realm of modern music is not all glitz and glam, having had to deal with a highly-publicized divorce and a band breakup all around the same time. Rather than seek pity, however, McDonald got to work.

Modern Hearts is the full-bodied expression of McDonald's diligence in the face of such adversity. All at once a reflection on where he's been and where he is now, McDonald's most compelling songwriting comes from off of this body of work.

Before the album's 1 June release, McDonald is premiering its title track with PopMatters. He tells us, "'Modern Hearts' is the title track from the album. This song kind of summed it up for me. I wrote this one when I was going through a breakup. It was the first time I had experienced heartbreak in the age of modern technology."

"In past relationships, the time and space away after a split allowed for both parties to heal and grow from the experience much faster, but now with social media, you can't really hide or getaway to allow that proper healing to take place. I learned that modern technology can put a few bumps in the road when it comes to trying to get over someone. This song is about that exact thing."

Stylistically, the song represents a culmination of all of the avenues McDonald has traversed as a musician thus far. The breakup anthem's searing overall arrangement evokes a contemporary rock vibe, though not without its obvious moments of deep Americana introspection. Considering McDonald's own story that comes around as the focus of "Modern Hearts", it comes as no surprise that the emotion he evokes in this performance feels as palpably heartbreaking as it does empowering.

Despite his hardships, McDonald seems to have come out on the other side of adversity as a human being more whole than he was before. Most notably, "Modern Hearts" is an unrelentingly raw, realistic perspective on how public any breakup could be in the digital age. Sharing the cold hard truths of his experiences in such a song has McDonald wearing his heart on his sleeve for the world to see. In doing so, it feels like a final step in his past where it belongs. Having exposed these harsh realities for what they were, he steps forward, head held high, towards a brighter tomorrow.

Modern Hearts is currently available for pre-order. It was produced by Jordan Lehning (Caitlin Rose, Andrew Combs) and tracked in real time at Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, North Carolina, with additional recording taking place at Nashville's Sound Emporium. The studio musicians who played with McDonald on the LP have previously worked in the studio with Cage the Elephant, Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves, and a slew of other Americana notables.





The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.


ONO Confronts American Racial Oppression with the Incendiary 'Red Summer'

Decades after their initial formation, legendary experimentalists ONO have made an album that's topical, vital, uncomfortable, and cathartic. Red Summer is an essential documentation of the ugliness and oppression of the United States.


Silent Women Filmmakers No Longer So Silent: Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers

The works of silent filmmakers Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers were at risk of being forever lost. Kino Lorber offers their works on Blu-Ray. Three cheers for film historians and film restoration.


Rush's 'Permanent Waves' Endures with Faultless Commercial Complexity

Forty years later, Rush's ability to strike a nearly perfect balance between mainstream invitingness and exclusory complexity is even more evident and remarkable. The progressive rock classic, Permanent Waves, is celebrating its 40th anniversary.


Drum Machines? Samples? Brendan Benson Gets Contemporary with 'Dear Life'

Powerpop overlord and part-time Raconteur, Brendan Benson, grafts hip-hop beats to guitar pop on his seventh solo album, Dear Life.


'Sell You Everything' Brings to Light Buzzcocks '1991 Demo LP' That Passed Under-the-Radar

Cherry Red Records' new box-set issued in memory of Pete Shelley gathers together the entire post-reunion output of the legendary Buzzcocks. Across the next week, PopMatters explores the set album-by-album. First up is The 1991 Demo LP.


10 Key Tracks From the British Synthpop Boom of 1980

It's 40 years since the first explosion of electronic songs revitalized the UK charts with futuristic subject matter, DIY aesthetics, and occasionally pompous lyrics. To celebrate, here's a chronological list of those Moog-infused tracks of 1980 that had the biggest impact.

Reading Pandemics

Poe, Pandemic, and Underlying Conditions

To read Edgar Allan Poe in the time of pandemic, we need to appreciate a very different aspect of his perspective—not that of a mimetic artist but of the political economist.


'Yours, Jean' Is a Perfect Mixture of Tragedy, Repressed Desire, and Poor Impulse Control

Lee Martin's Yours, Jean is a perfectly balanced and heartbreaking mix of true crime narrative and literary fiction.


The 60 Best Albums of 2007

From tech house to Radiohead and Americana to indie and everything in between, the 60 best albums of 2007 included many of the 2000s' best albums.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Solitude Stands in the Window: Thoreau's 'Walden'

Henry David Thoreau's Walden as a 19th century model for 21st century COVID-19 quarantine.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Will COVID-19 Kill Movie Theaters?

Streaming services and large TV screens have really hurt movie theaters and now the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered multiplexes and arthouses. The author of The Perils of Moviegoing in America, however, is optimistic.

Gary D. Rhodes, Ph.D
Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.