The Birth of the Concept EP?| Posted November 26, 2014
Andrea McCaffrey has released her debut solo EP, The Push and Pull, but she's by no means a newcomer to music. A longtime worship leader--and current leader at a megachurch in the Indianapolis area--she got her start in garage bands as a teenager.
After experiencing a number of challenges, transitions and heartaches in the past few years, McCaffrey felt the need to express her journey of doubt and faith, and the result is The Push and Pull. It's an honest project birthed out of McCaffrey's heart, and supported by an army of musicians, friends and Kickstarter backers.
What's great about The Push and Pull is the fact that, in a sense, it's a concept EP, which isn't something you hear about too often. It takes listeners through this journey of struggle, surrender and growth--in just five songs.
Title track "The Push and Pull," is sort of the summary of this journey, talking about the back-and-forth tension we experience in this life between trusting God and doubting Him. Andrea declares, "It's a push and pull inside my heart, and someday You will win." With distortion guitars, syncopated keys and march-friendly drums, the song carries an almost "live" feeling to it.
Keys--electric piano and standard piano sounds--drive upbeat ballad "Bird In A Cage," in which Andrea laments her spiritual paralysis. "It's time to embrace instead of escape," she sings. The song's a passionate one of having nothing to say, but pleading, "If you hang around just a little longer I'll let them [my words] out."
A definitely love song of longing, "A Million Miles" features emotive keys and electric guitar riffs that accompany some great male-female harmonies. "You are the morning and I am the night / I'm falling far behind / You are the future, I am the past / I keep hanging back," Andrea sings to God, indicating her realization of God's distance.
"How do you get underneath my skin / Reach me in that place no one else can?" Andrea begins in "Reason and Rhyme," a song of realization that even when God feels distant, "You're not far behind." The tone of the EP changes here from that of searching to that of understanding. It's noticeably brighter sounding, despite the confessional vibe of the lyrical content.
The piano- and organ-driven, Sarah McLaughlan-like "I'm Coming Home" closes out the EP with a Prodigal Son-like vibe. "I threw my hopes on the ground / When I was searching for a treasure but the treasure never could be found," she sings, as a resolution of sorts. Thematically, Andrea comes to a peaceful conclusion that God was never the one to be distant at all, and that she's ready to rest in Him.
Closing Thoughts: The Push and Pull is incredible in its ability to cover so much ground thematically and lyrically in just five songs. The overall musical vibe finds itself in this grey space between a studio record and a "live"-type recording--meaning, it almost sounds live. Many times this works well for the recording, but sometimes the electric guitar riffs can distract from the excellent piano lines and soothing vocals.
And speaking of vocals, Andrea is at her best when she sings with a smooth, whispery quality. The higher-end, power vocals don't necessarily fit her singing style, although those moments are rare. The sheer honesty and purity of the delivery serves this project well.
It's clear Andrea McCaffrey has some serious songwriting chops, and as an artist, I'd like to see her focus more on that Sarah McLaughlan, subdued style for her peace-filled voice. Debut projects, though, are all about finding what works best for an artist, and there's a lot that works well here. Looking forward to more from this successful storyteller.
Song to Download Now:
"I'm Coming Home" (Get it on iTunes here.)