Passion and precision


Lindsay Mac with Brooke McKinney

Indy Hostel

Saturday, July 1

Make the rounds of the music scene long enough, and after a while you just want to hear something new. With this in mind, I can categorically state I have never before heard, and probably never will hear again, Bill Withers’ oft-covered “Use Me” played on a plucked cello as performed by Lindsay Mac at the Indy Hostel July 1.

The fun started with the opening set by Brooke McKinney, multitalented instrumentalist best known locally for her work with Arminta and Blaq Lily. With the lightning-quick fingers of an acoustic guitar virtuoso and a voice that defies categorization — soaring from the ethereal high notes of Tori Amos to the throaty stylings of Janis Joplin — she was worth the price of admission all alone.

Lindsay Mac herself displayed a highly developed sense of pacing, a willingness to play with the sound system for echoes and unearthly tones, the sheer chutzpah to throw in random yodeling and, oh yes, that cello-played-as-guitar. She’s a classically trained cellist, and when she got into the whole singer-songwriter thing, as she put it, she decided to go with what she knew.

She creates a sound not quite like any other. Think of the basic tinkling of a ukulele and then inject it full of really good steroids. The size gives it a naturally deep, rich echo that occasionally gives the illusion of being electric. On her slower work the cello takes on, of all things, the tenor of a Coda-era Jimmy Page.

Just in case you were wondering, it really is possible to rock the hell out on a guitar-cello.

Mac also shows a real talent for the musical and experimental side of songwriting. Not everyone has a feel for the ebb and flow of music, so when someone comes along with Mac’s innate understanding of pace, you take notice. She controls her songs with passion and precision, drawing out the emotional ride of the music with the storytelling of the lyrics.

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