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John McDonough Is Passionate On “Planes Fly Too Low”

Chicago-based musician John McDonough has a natural knack for acoustic renditions, and Planes Fly Too Low certainly fulfills anyone’s interest in a solid acoustic track.

Experience is certainly something to brag about when it comes to the music industry, and John McDonough’s career has spanned over five decades with unique originals and fan favorites.

The Chicago via Austin-based singer-songwriter is most commonly known for his guitar work, passionate vocals, and personal lyricism resulting in a modern sound twist not commonly heard in the genre.

Since his career began, McDonough has self-released eight albums of original music, where he’s consistently performed at the rowdy and dinner crowds at Austin restaurants and bars.

On March 17th, 2021, McDonough released an acoustic album titled Second Chances that featured some of his favorite tracks from his 2014 and 2016 releases, Dreams and Imagination, and Surrounding Colors, respectively. Planes Fly Too Low is track nine of ten on the album, and it’s unquestionably a highlight.

Encompassing a modern flair of Elton John and Harry Chapin vocally, the track begins with soft acoustic fingerpicking and an acoustic lead line over it. Right away, McDonough’s emotional storytelling takes hold, similar to the likes of James Blunt and Damien Rice.

Around the 40-second mark, the chorus kicks in with McDonough declaring how sometimes planes fly too low, hence the name of the track. It has an excellent harmony over it, showing a difference between the verse and chorus.

Acoustic tracks tend to have the hurdle of being dynamically competent. Still, McDonough does an excellent job bringing the chorus at a louder volume than the verse—showcasing his experience as a musician.

The second verse has a similar vibe to the first. Still, it has a nice harmony over the back half, leading to the second chorus beautifully. The bridge comes in the right after the second chorus, carrying the same tempo and feel already here, furthering what you’d expect from McDonough at this point.

Finally, the song concludes with yet another chorus, this time with a couple more layers and drive to make it pack a punch. McDonough’s emotional vocal delivery has the listener feel as if they’re in the room with McDonough while he’s pouring his heart out.

While being right around three minutes in length, Planes Fly Too Low is the perfect track to get an understanding of who and what McDonough offers. Finding a great singer-songwriter is challenging nowadays, but McDonough shows he’s a hidden gem more people need to be aware of.

Prior to the release of Planes Fly Too Low and his acoustic album Second Chances, McDonough practiced psychotherapy but retired nine years ago to focus on music.

Since retiring, he’s released five new albums, played over 500 gigs, performed in eleven major music festivals, appeared on radio, and went on tour throughout the United States.

His last three releases spent six consecutive months on the Americana Music Association Record Chart. As a result of the pandemic, McDonough also relocated to Chicago to be closer with his family.

With plans to tour the United States and Europe in the future, be on the lookout for John McDonough if you’re a fan of all-around great music.

–Jimmy Garfield



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  1. Indie Pulse Music Reviews John McDonough’s “Planes Fly Too Low” – Slide House Records

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