Sunday, March 04, 2012


     Dara Maclean could easily be a model.  Instead, her chosen profession is that of a Christian singer.  On her website she writes: "I love making music you can move and groove to, but at the same time, as Christian artists we have a responsibility to speak the truth of the finished work of Christ in love.  Ministering to the broken, unloved and discouraged and ultimately showing people God's better way is what's in my heart.  It's how I'm wired.  My message, my purpose is to express the heart of God for His kids."  Dara's major label debut, YOU GOT MY ATTENTION (2011, Word Entertainment) was produced by Ian Eskelin with whom she writes the first three tracks.
     'Suitcases' is a great pop song.  Of it, she says: "This song is my encouragement to us all to let go of the baggage of the past."  Some of the lyrics are: "How can you move when they're weighing you down?/What can you do when you're tied to the ground, yeah?/You carry your burdens, heavy like gravity/Just let them go now, there's freedom in release/You can't run when you're holding suitcases/It's a new day, throw away your mistakes/And open up your heart, lay down your guard/You don't have to be afraid."  The title track is a toe-tapper that includes the use of trumpet and saxophone.  It is about being fixated on the Lord: "You got my attention now/You captured me/You got my attention now/I can't take my eyes off of You/You're the One I need/You've stolen my affection/You got a hold of my heart/I'm so caught up/Nothing compares to how beautiful You are/So I'm givin' all of me to You/Cause no one loves me like You do."  'Unreachable' offers hope to the sinner: "You're not too far away/You can't fall too far to save/Sounds unbelievable, but you're not unreachable/Just take the hand of grace/Your sins have been replaced/By something beautiful, you're not unreachable/You've been waiting to be rescued from your shame/But He was there, before you called His name."
     'What Love Looks Like' slows things down and has the impossible task of describing love: "It's losing yourself and/Discovering the truth/More than a feeling/Your love is living proof/The only thing that gives me any hope/Knowing I'll never be alone/That's what love looks like/Words fail to say/Just what love looks like/When you give your heart away/It takes you in, holds you close/Never lets you go/So picture all the best things in life/That's what love looks like."  'Free' is one of three songs written solely by Dara.  It has Christian pop radio written all over it and speaks of God's goodness: "I was caged in, then You opened/Every door that held me bound and You gave me the key/No more pressure I can just breathe/The girl I tried so hard to be, has always been me/My strength alone will never be enough/But Your arms keep lifting me up."  'Yours Forever' is a song of intimacy with God: "I'm with You/You're right beside me/I feel You near/Right here to guide me/I'm with You/You're right beside me/To guide me home/Thank You for finding me when You did/You changed my life, now I believe/That love is all that I'll ever need/I promise my heart and all that I am/I'm Yours forever my Love."
     'Nothin' You Won't Do' co-written with Ben Glover, declares God's love for each person on the planet and has a high energy chorus: "There You go (2X)/Doing what You do/Chasing me, lovin' me/You ain't afraid to/Move the universe, just to prove/Yeah, that if I was/The only one/Here on the planet/You would still send Your Son/Cause You couldn't stand it/To see me anywhere but next to You/Ain't nothing that You won't do."  'The One' features keys by Tim Lauer, and is a declaration of faith: "I know You're the way/I know You're the risen One/Sent from above, to deliver us, in You we trust/I know You're the truth/I know You're the only One/You hold the key to this mystery, no more captivity/Jesus You're the One/You're the only One (2X)."  'Had to Be You' is a pleasant love song that could be addressed to God or a boyfriend: "I've been waiting all my life/Just to find/Someone like you/Love you caught me by surprise/One look and I/Just knew/It had to be you/No one else can love me like you do/Eternally I'm yours/You know it's true/Nothing in this world could ever/Change the meaning of forever/Me and you."
     'So Good to Me' testifies to God's upright character: "Why would I ever worry?/Why would I ever live in fear?/I know my God is for me/There's a peace surpassing every single tear/His eye is on the sparrow/He's even livin' in the little things/I'm stickin' to the narrow/Cause His heart has captured me."  Dara wrote 'Gratitude' with Ronnie Freeman who also contributes background vocals on the album.  The song opens with these words of testimony: "I was in trouble and You rescued me/Torn to pieces now I'm complete/Fatherless till You called me Your own/No direction, till You showed me where to go."  The album closes with a wonderful ballad about finding security in God.  'Home' was written with Paul Alan and utilizes cello, violin and viola.  The lyrics include these words: "Still a fire burns, lighting up the room/I know You're here with me/You wrap me in Your arms/Like only You can do/I know You're all I need/With You, I'll always be/Home."
     Her website says: "Just 25, she has forged a sound rooted in the '70s Motown, funk and soul her parents loved and filtered through a thoroughly contemporary urban pop lens."  It also says she was influenced by Adele, Natasha Bedingfield, Ray LaMontagne, John Legend and Marc Broussard.  I would also make vocal comparisons to fellow CCM artists Ayiesha Woods and Fracesca Battistelli.  YOU GOT MY ATTENTION is a breath of fresh air in an oft stale musical environment.  I'm rating it 90%.  For more info visit and