Dara Joy Maclean was born on May 19, 1986 in Fort Worth, Texas. She is of Italian heritage. Her grandfather changed their family name from Martarella. Dara married Donnie Petty in May of 2013. Her website says that she “is passionate about raising the awareness of, and bringing an end to, the issue of human trafficking.” For more info on this, visit www.ijm.org. In 2011 she released her major label debut YOU’VE GOT MY ATTENTION which included the hits ‘Suitcases’ and ‘Free’. Now she is back with her follow-up, WANTED (2013, Fervent/Word). She says it is “a reminder that through the gift of God’s grace, you’re truly blessed, forgiven, good enough, that you can stop fighting and find peace, as you rest in the knowledge of God’s opinion of you and letting it be the only one that matters. The fact that He sees you through the sacrifice of His Son and that sacrifice was enough to eternally cleanse and redeem, no matter what the story.” WANTED was produced by Paul Mabury.
The first three songs were written by Dara, Justin Ebach, and Paul Mabury. The title track is a bouncy pop song that invites us to run into God’s arms: “You are wanted/To every broken heart, He stands with open arms/You are wanted/To every searching soul, look to the rising sun/If you’re lonely, hurting, gone too far/To the outcast, you come as you are/For you, you are wanted, you, you are wanted/You, you are wanted, you, you are wanted/Let this be the day that joy takes the place/Of all the years that shame tried to steal away.” ‘Our Only Hope’ is an inspiring song that speaks words of truth: “You’re Healer to the broken/Shepherd to the lost/Father to the orphan/Adopted by the cross/There’s comfort in Your arms/It’s where the healing starts/Our only hope is Jesus.”
Of the next song, ‘Set My People Free’, Dara says: “It is my mission statement and my battle cry.” It is a rousing song that finds God speaking to His followers: “Set My people free/Go into the world, every boy and girl/Deserves to know a life beyond the fight/And reach where there’s no light or hope/So the captives know/And My enemies can see that I will/Set My people free.” ‘Love Is’ was penned by Dara, Dave Barnes, and Paul Mabury. It contains these words of testimony: “How could I be the same/Once I was saved by grace?/You put together every broken piece/Now faded are the scars/And all the wasted hours/With every day Your kindness wins/Now and forever I will sing/It’s Your love that saved me/Even when my heart was breaking.”
‘Good Enough’ is a great song with a laid back groove to it. It debunks works righteousness: “So I won’t spend my whole life/Paying my own price/Tryin’ to be good enough/I’m gonna just let You love me/Finally see me the way You see/I’m believing Your grace is enough for me/Thank God I don’t have to hold on with my own strength/I’m not the one who saved me/So I’m trusting You completely.” ‘Step Into the Light’ is one of two co-writes with the multi-talented Cindy Morgan. This one tells of God’s healing power: “I’ve been love hungry, always trying to fill the void/And it leaves you wanting more/But when it’s real, you feel it reach inside your heart/It only restores/Hey, hey, hey, I’m so tired of trying/Gonna let grace be like sunlight shining/Step into the light/Open up your eyes/It’s already done/He’s already won the fight.”
‘Blameless’ is a ballad containing these beautiful words: “What manner of love is this/That You would lay down Your life?/You paid the price, the sacrifice for redemption/Now I am determined to know/Christ and Him crucified/Now alive and the power in me is You/Now blameless, You call me holy/I’ve been forgiven/You call me righteous and free.” ‘You are all I Need’ is another ballad. This one declares a total dependence on God: “You are all I need/You are strength/Never failing/You are all I seek/You alone are enough/In You I live/In You I’ll stay/By Your Word/Light the way.”
‘Nobody But You’ has a cool shuffle to it and includes these fun lyrics: “You put the soul in James Brown, the down in downtown/You throw a party in the clouds when the lost get found/You put the mind in Einstein, the gold in gold mines/And every day You find a way to save my life/You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful.” These words from ‘I am Blessed’ show that Dara has great faith in God: “No matter what may come/You’re stronger than the storm/Forever I will say/You are always good, always good.” Style-wise it has Alicia Keys written all over it!
‘Made’ was written for Dara’s husband. In fact, Dara walked down the aisle to it. It nicely uses strings and includes these romantic, somewhat mushy lyrics: “When I saw you it was different/You were autumn, you were Christmas/My perfect gift from Heaven’s door/I’ve never been loved before you/Oh, love, this is the start, where we belong/Can’t get enough of each other/Oh, love, here is my heart/Here we go falling together.” ‘Find Rest’ ultimately ends the album off on a peaceful note both musically and lyrically: “Though the darkness falls/And the storms are raging/I will find my shelter in You, in You/Fount of mercy new/God of love unchanging/Now my heart is resting in You.”
In the liner notes Dara writes: “I want to begin by giving glory only where it’s due, to my Father and Savior Jesus Christ for the inspiration, timing, and the gift of this record.” Dara’s voice is surely one of the most soulful in Contemporary Christian Music. Her vocals are rich in tone, depth, and character, and rampant with feeling! Her influences include Etta James, Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, CeCe Winans¸and Hillsong. The pictures of Dara included with this project are just beautiful. I’m rating WANTED 88%. The digital deluxe edition has two bonus songs. For more info visit: www.daramaclean.com and www.wordlabelgroup.com.