Year's Best Debut?| Posted September 15, 2014
Centricity Music has had a certain knack for picking out some pretty great singer-songwriters over the last decade or so: Andrew Peterson, Jason Gray, Jonny Diaz, Downhere, and Aaron Shust just to name a few you may have heard of. This hit-picking knack doesn't seem to be going away either. Last month we heard the first Centricity release from Lindsay McCaul, and now this month we are introduced to another incredible talent: Lauren Daigle.
She was actually discovered by Centricity as a last-minute backup for a band whose singer was too ill to perform. Immediately Daigle's powerful and smoky voice impressed, and two years later she is releasing her first album. How Can It Be showcases her vocal strength and tone with worshipful and encouraging songs in the singer-songwriter vein of Francesca Battistelli, Adele, and Sara Bareilles.
Music fans may already be familiar with the album's eponymous lead single, which has made its way onto the Billboard Christian Airplay chart. The lyrics of "How Can It Be" are vulnerable as Daigle sings, "These hands are dirty, I dare not lift them up to the Holy one." As she continues her broken, yet rejoicing prayer, she thanks God that though she doubts and falls, God is faithful to give her new life.
People may also be familiar with the album's closer "Light of the World," which was previously released on Centricity's compilation album, Christmas: Joy to the World. This is one of those rare Christmas songs that I feel comfortable listening to year-round without feeling out of season.
The album definitely has a radio-friendly vibe (a good thing in this case...think Sara Bareilles). "O Lord" is probably the best example of this, with background clap tracks and vocal "oh"s aiding the song's catchiness. "Trust In You" is another song I would love to hear on the radio. The message of this song, that we need to trust in God in all circumstances, especially when it seems like God doesn't give us answers, is one that definitely spoke to me and I think is an important message for the Church.
Daigle's more gentle side is also highlighted on tracks "Power to Redeem" (featuring All Sons & Daughters) and "Salt and Light." Both of these songs feature a nice use of strings. I especially have a soft spot for the cello on "Salt and Light" highlighting Daigle's tender prayer: "Let my life be a song revealing who you are."
"Come Alive (Dry Bones)" is a stand-out track with a synth-driven chorus citing the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37. The lead song on the album, "I Am Yours" is another highlight that shows off Daigle's commanding vocals and great range as she sings "Let the waters rise, I will stand as the oceans roar."
There have been some pretty great debut albums this year, and How Can It Be is definitely one of my favorites. Her messages of faith, of trust in God, and of the power and love of God are presented in lyrics and music that are accessible and yet not cliché. It doesn't hurt either that those messages are presented by one of the best new voices we've heard in the Christian market. I really can't think of much to say negatively about this album, it is a fantastic debut that will appeal to a large range of music listeners. I would guess that we will be hearing Lauren Daigle's voice quite a bit more on the radio very soon, and that is a very good thing!
Song to Download Now:
"How Can It Be" (Get it on iTunes here.)