We’ll Answer The Call is the brilliant new EP from singer/songwriter John McDonough. The Chicagoan is a gifted lyricist and more importantly, an enchanting storyteller. We’ll Answer The Call is centered around the historic Olympic run of Joe Rantz and the Washington Huskies rowing program and their eventual Olympic gold at the 1936 Olympic games held in Berlin, Germany. Weaving together a tinkering, but melodic guitar with a backing band and piano, the songs on We’ll Answer The Call are reminiscent of Gordon Lightfoot’s epic 1976 “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”. Proving hope is just around the corner and perseverance pays off in this inspiring tale, We’ll Answer The Call is certainly one of the year’s most interesting audio journeys.
McDonough opens with the clandestine “Shooting Star”. He immediately connects the listener with this hidden figure, Rantz, anxieties and pressures. Felt the world crushing in on my chest, sings McDonough, giving the listener a birds eye view to the protagonist’s troubles and inner-thoughts. I must admit, I wasn’t expecting the first-person narrative, but it works very well here. I do think the cheat-sheet of the press materials helped.
What’s more interesting as the songs move along – from there it’s onto “Love You Just For You” and “Among The Stars” is the intricate music beds are delightful. But somehow the spotlight is always on the words. I think McDonough has a nice-enough voice – he’s modest. He really keeps the listener glued through his lyrics. You feel the warmth of the guitar – it’s a honey-crisp, Autumn sound. The rhythm of the song is comforting and it keeps the listener moving forward, onward. It’s also free of distractions. These songs are the kind that you have to sit and pay attention to – not because you have to, but because they warrant it.
“We’ll Answer The Call” and “Point Me East” are the final tracks. These songs might be sharing the Rantz’ and his team’s stories, but these are songs that we all can celebrate. In “We’ll Answer The Call”, McDonough starts out with a trembling-like acoustic guitar. It almost begins to twinkle, with the momentum gaining. The piano follows lead and pretty soon a melodic guitar sings with glory. We’ll go down as the best there ever was, he sings, opening up in the fist rising chorus, we’ll answer the call. I’m not quite sure, but I believe he’s inferring to the black eagle as Hitler and the Nazi regime. I couldn’t quite understand what he was saying. Still, it’s the perfect song to encapsulate the EP. I would have to say the title track is definitely my favorite of the handful. It started out very calm and really galloped along like what you might picture in the Olympic montage. I could visually see it all – and I could almost feel the sweat and reach out and touch the determination. I also felt like McDonough’s enthusiasm reached a new height in the title track.
I can’t say that I’m bound for Olympic glory and maybe some listeners out there might not be either. You never know. Still, We’ll Answer The Call has much to get up on your feet and cheer for.
by Jennifer Munoz