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On King Cardinal’s debut EP, released January 2014, Mackey operated largely as a solo enterprise, relying on strong storytelling and sparse instrumentation to craft an alt-folk identity clearly following the footsteps of elder statesmen like Bill Callahan and Greg Brown. King Cardinal’s sophomore release, “Once A Giant”, finds Mackey confidently spreading his wings from singer-songwriter into full-fledged band leader, enlisting the services of bassist Kramer Kelling, drummer Scott Roush (both of Denver mainstays Rossonian and The Raven and The Writing Desk), and pedal-steel virtuoso Jamie Mitchell, all while stretching into a sound more reminiscent of The Band or The Flying Burrito Brothers.

Recorded predominantly live in Roush and Kramer's living room, and mixed and mastered by long-time Denver recording stalwarts John Macy and Randy LeRoy, “Once A Giant” is a lush and nuanced six-song EP that effortlessly meanders between moments of haunting poignancy and humble triumph. And while the songs may deal with timelessly familiar themes like regret, resolution and redemption, Mackey summons enough heart and understated emotion to deliver a composition that feels intensely real and adds a much-welcomed layer of depth to King Cardinal’s already strong alt-folk foundation.