The number of musicians wielding an acoustic guitar seems to be on the rise. You can find them all over MySpace, and all over the contemporary Christian music world as well. While not all of these artists maintain the same level of quality, Sparrow Records' own Shawn McDonald remains consistent, offering another set of goodies called Roots.
"Consistency" isn't the only word that can be used to describe Shawn's sound. "Diversity" is a good adjective as well. Though he has pretty much ditched the some-sung-some-rapped lyrics, he still mixes it up a lot throughout the recording. The album opener, "Clarity," sounds like it could be one of TobyMac's softer jams, and features very catchy guitar work. "Shadowlands" and "Greed" possess an almost Hyperstatic Union-like funk sound, and songs like "Roots" and "Slow Down" contain really soulful vocals. Even a bit of folk finds its way in the mix on "Captivated." It definitely reaches almost all the way across the CCM spectrum.
It's risky to incorporate too many different styles into one album. The artist has to be confident that the genre change will keep his or her listeners' attention. Shawn McDonald has successfully done so with Roots. The excellent musicianship easily makes any song on the album a gem. The lyrics range from reminiscing to inspiring, and, on a couple occasions, come straight from the Bible.
I honestly didn't know what to expect when I first listened to Roots. And on the first shot, it wasn't too impressive. But with each consecutive listen, and the more attention paid to the talent displayed, the more clear it became how good of an album this is. The only real problem found, however, was that the last song, "Hallelujah," didn't seem to have quite the same appeal that the rest of the album did. It's a delightful song, and just as good when it comes to musicianship, but clocking in at six minutes and forty-one seconds and basically staying at the same pace the entire time, it just feels like a rough ending. Roots is definitely worth the money though, and if you like beautiful guitars and heartwarming melodies, it's a good addition to your collection.- Review date: 3/10/08, written by Scott Fryberger
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