Holler Country Music
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Premiere: Michael McArthur - 'Run Around'

By Jof Owen

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“I want to do for myself and others what my heroes have done for me,” says Michael McArthur, talking about heroes like John Prine, Bill Wither, Leonard Cohen or Tom Waits.

“If I’m feeling it or going through it, chances are, it’s universal. Music is about sharing those stories and emotions with other people. I write to plug in a light for people.” 

‘Run Around’ is one of those songs that will shine brightly in the imaginations of many listeners that fall under its spell; a raw slice of bluesy country soul that brings to mind Stanley Road-era Paul Weller with the emotional weight of Colin Blunstone and the playfulness of Leon Russell. McArthur’s fresh take on 60s soul and R&B slots in neatly alongside contemporaries like Marcus King, Anderson East and Lukas Nelson.

"There is a story within the story”, McArthur says of the song. “It's less about the female character, though she is a star, and more about one's inability to value oneself. If we believe this is what we deserve, then it's all we'll ever have. And that goes both ways. ‘Run Around’ is the cycle of putting yourself down to lift someone else up, or taking someone down to be lifted up.”

‘Run Around’ is premiering exclusively at Holler below.

After building his career on the strength of his lyric-forward songwriting, he released his first full-length album, Ever Green, Ever Rain, in 2018. Produced by Grammy-winner Ryan Freeland (Ray Lamontagne, Bonnie Raitt) it set the ball rolling on a career in songwriting that came crashing to a halt with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“For the first time in a decade, I didn’t have a plan,” says McArthur. “That uncertainty and discomfort stripped everything away and brought me home to my creative source. Writing and playing became my lifeline, and every time I wrote a song, I recorded a demo of it”.

That’s how the new album Milky Stars was born. McArthur took a chance and sent his isolation-forged demos to storied producer Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Kings of Leon, James Bay), after the two crossed paths online. King invited him to record his sophomore full-length album in Nashville in May 2021, resulting in a 12-track album awash with imagery as intimate as it is mighty. 

"I wrote this one nine years ago or so. It’s had a special place in the garden since then, but from a recording standpoint, I hadn’t been able to capture it in the right light. Then Jacquire got ahold of it. He challenged me to finesse the lyric and update the structure. ‘Run Around’ is grown up now, and I’m getting to know it all over again"

Milky Stars will be released September 9 on Transoceanic Records/Soundly Music. 'Run Around', the lead single, is premiering exclusively at Holler above.