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JFH Music Review


Shawn McDonald, Closer
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Shawn McDonald
Closer



Artist Info: Discography
Album length: 12 tracks: 46 minutes, 6 seconds
Street Date: March 22, 2011


After making alternative/pop/folk/acoustic tunes for almost a decade, with a slew of releases under his belt, the ever versatile Shawn McDonald is back with Closer. The title track from his latest release has probably already hit a radio station near you. The album title aptly speaks of Shawn's desire to become more intimate with the Creator and most songs stay on key with that theme.

The album opens with "Better Way," which carries an ultra smooth flow that combines acoustic strings with a pinch of hip-hop. The song comes out very well, with later songs on the album, like "Control" and "Eyes Forward," following that same great musical combination. Pop-flavored "Hope" is up next, with a catchy, easy-listening feel. The title track stands in third, showcasing a soft piano-driven feel drawing from our need to become closer to Him. All three songs are remarkable in their own way and should have listeners yearning for more.

With that being said, the album takes a turn toward mediocrity at this point. "Faithful" and "The Space Between Us" both have a good message, but fall a little flat in the end. "Something Real" has great potential when it comes to the lyrical concept of needing the relationship with God over playing religion, but leaves me wanting more musically. "Don't Give Up" tends to be repetitive and lacks content and depth.

At this point, Closer takes a U-turn back in the right direction. "Rise" talks of getting back up after difficult circumstances and "Storms" is filled with handling the brokenness in life; both tracks are rather good and show a more personal side of his music. Ending the listen is "Mystery," where Shawn sings in a raspy tone, "Sitting on the sea of mystery...Not coming back 'til I find love" over some nice guitar strings.

All in all, this is a very good and expectedly diverse album from Shawn McDonald. The music has many facets and the lyrical content is very strong while being personal. The middle song selection of the album does seem more like filler, but the beginning and the end songs are stronger and make for a very good overall sound.

- Review date: 3/15/11, written by Kevin Hoskins of Jesusfreakhideout.com



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JFH Staff's Second Opinion



Shawn McDonald's past material has always stood out amongst the slew of standard Christian radio artists, being a little more memorable (with gems like "Gravity," "Yahweh" and "Clarity" to name a few). For this fourth studio album, the songs seem a lot less memorable. McDonald's unique style from before is almost gone as he trades it in for the sounds of countless other CCM artists. There's still some shining moments, such as the funkyness of the opening track, "Better Way." That song pretty much screams "Shawn McDonald." For just about the rest of Closer, if you listened without knowing who it was, you could easily figure it out, but it's lost the touch that he usually brings to his tunes. The title track is catchy, and I find it stuck in my head sometimes, but everything about it seems like it was made strictly for Christian pop stations (if you're an avid radio listener, you've no doubt heard it countless times). The same can be said for many of Closer's songs, like "Faithful," "The Space Between Us" and "Mystery." I was kind of excited about this album, as I have really enjoyed his previous material, but upon giving Closer several listens, I lost my excitement about it. It's not without its highlights (mainly "Better Way" and "Pursue"), and McDonald is definitely a talented artist, but I was really hoping for more than just a radio playlist. - Scott Fryberger, 2/21/11

 

. Record Label: Sparrow Records
. Album length: 12 tracks: 46 minutes, 6 seconds
. Street Date: March 22, 2011
. Buy It: iTunes
. Buy It: AmazonMP3
. Buy It: Amazon.com

  1. Better Way (3:57)
  2. Hope (3:16)
  3. Closer (3:23)
  4. Faithful (3:25)
  5. The Space Between Us (3:40)
  6. Something Real (3:44)
  7. Control (3:48)
  8. Don't Give Up (4:25)
  9. Rise (4:27)
  10. Eyes Forward (3:37)
  11. Storms (4:07)
  12. Mystery (4:25)
  13. Closer (Bridge Edit) **iTunes Only (3:24)
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