Arlo McKinley songs generate their own magnetic fields. Cathartic, bleak, the speed of lava, his tunes don’t have the common ingredients you might associate with a hitmaker. But McKinley’s poignant storytelling and otherworldly voice pull you in, connecting memories about love, loss, addiction and navigating it all — topics that resonate with fans and attract new listeners. Just tour his YouTube pages and read the comments from folks thanking him. These songs helped them get through some tough times. I invite you to watch the song above (“I Wish I”) and not become completely captivated with this Cincinnati troubadour’s big voice, emotive lyrics and DIY song craft.
McKinley was in Indianapolis last week at the Hi-Fi, and it appears Sun King Brewery got him to come over to do a song or two. “I Wish I” is off McKinley’s just released LP This Mess We’re In via Oh Boy Records. The album has a more fleshed out country sound with strings, drums, bass and beyond. It’s very good, but (for me) nothing compares to just McKinley and his guitar on stage. Watch the video above and then visit Sun King Brewery. They have very good taste. Then check out McKinley’s tour. I’m aiming to catch him in Cleveland in August.