A 'Brave' New Direction
Posted March 31, 2014
By SarahFine_NRT, Staff Reviewer
It's long been argued that Shawn McDonald is one of Christian music's most underrated male vocalists. "Underrated" seems like a strong word, seeing as mass appeal is never something the self-proclaimed introvert has ever sought out. Perhaps a more appropriate description would be that of a hidden gem, whose cutting way of crafting a musical tale sticks with you long after you've first listened.
Debate aside, his hidden gem status is at risk upon the release of his first new album in three years, Brave. An album I can foresee propelling his quiet career to new heights.
Anyone who has stuck with McDonald for awhile can attest to how these last several years have been a trying journey of both penetrating darkness and radiant light. Following a season of intense spiritual warfare and self-discovery, his latest effort promises to speak truth into the lives of the broken, while offering the immeasurable hope that only comes through Christ.
"We Are Brave" displays this new lease on life from right its bright explosion. Shawn's style of acoustic pop is met with polished electronic elements, a combination you will find sprinkled throughout the entire effort.
"End Of The Day" has a uniquely cinematic appeal to it, while still remaining familiar enough to highlight his strengths. To live a life that reflects the very nature of God is the backbone of every lyric in this song, and portrays truth with grace-laden honesty: "I want my heart to beat with passion, I want my motive to be pure / I want the legacy that I leave to reflect the life You gave me."
A spine chilling section of strings prelude the haunting "Firefly," my personal favorite on the album. "The darkest moment comes just before the dawn / So hold on," he powerfully conveys in the bridge. Few and far between are songs with so much encouragement that carry such a tangible passion interwoven into each line. A memorable highlight, indeed.
"Hope Is Right Here," "Flower In The Snow," and the fun and funky "Your Love Is Saving Me" present an obvious musical maturity that will impress even the most skeptical fans, while still remaining true to what they expect at the songs core.
A singer who is always game to touch on the universal themes of life, love and heartbreak, "Worlds Apart" is an emotionally stellar proclamation of star-crossed devotion divided by different worlds. Though it is simple in nature, what it lacks in grandeur, it more than makes up for in depth: "Don't you see? You'll always be, always be the world to me / After all, just believe, you'll always be the one for me."
The ultimate test of a great album is the reaction it gets when someone goes into it blindly. I can't say I was was much of a Shawn McDonald listener before walking into Brave, but after basking in song after song, I was completely sold. This album only becomes richer and more complex with every repeated listen, and I find myself deeply steeped into each melodic layer and thought provoking lyric.
Shawn's signature acoustic vibe is perfectly blended with EDM undertones, presenting something sparklingly raw and authentic, without vainly trying to meet a mainstream trend. This is a game-changing release in McDonald's seasoned career, and will no doubt go down as one of my top releases this year. Take my word for it--don't let this one go under your radar.
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