Paying tribute to the soft things with Sam MacPherson

When Sam MacPherson plays his guitar, it feels like an invitation — into heartbreak and coming home. In the strangest corners of life, listening to his acoustic rhythms and tender vocals reminds you of home and invites you to take stock of all that is sweet in this life. 

The beauty of midweek concerts is that the mundane transforms into meaning. There is room every day for the sweet things. We don’t need to store up our capacity for wonder until the weekends. So I made space for awe on a cool Wednesday night in April for Sam MacPherson’s first headline show in New York. 

MacPherson welcomed everyone home to the Mercury Lounge on the Lower East Side, playing favorites like “Play Dumb” and “Last Minute.” Under the glow of the simple spotlight overhead, MacPherson sang tributes to the soft things with some songs off his brand new sophomore EP, “Powerlines,” which dropped on April 14. 

He sings of home and heartbreak, loss and love with an inimitable hope that radiates through everyone who sings along. The audience swayed to the music, eyes closed, entranced by the melodies that cut through and introduced themselves. Sometimes I would catch a smile drifting across the face of someone caught up in the elation of being known by the lyrics with such heart. With MacPherson leading the audience through each complex emotion, it felt as though the entire group had “dressed for the rain,” ready to break open despite it all. 

MacPherson, a 25-year-old New Jersey native, studied nursing before switching his trajectory to music. His rise as a musician comes from listening to groups like The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, and Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen. When he sings, it’s clear that MacPherson is exactly where he needs to be. 

MacPherson’s strength as an artist comes from his ability to paint the many colors of each experience. His simple and sweet-natured style 

From the Mercury Lounge stage MacPherson was accompanied by Lucas Bidran on drums and MacPherson’s brother Jack on guitar. At one point in the show, the atmosphere seemed to grow smaller as MacPherson’s bandmates departed the stage as he played a few solos and I watched as the crowd became a collective under the soft violet light. This was an evening for cracking open. 

This summer MacPherson is set to join Ruel on a North American tour, returning to New York for a show at Terminal 5 on June 16. —Olivia Bardo
Photo by Nicholas McMillen (

You may also like

Back to Top