I literally got a copy of You Got My Attention, the debut release of Contemporary Christian artist Dara Maclean, four years after its release. This may be the first time I’m doing an album review with so much time past the release of an album. But there is a very clear reason as to why I’m doing so. This album is absolutely fantastic.
Since the release of You Got My Attention, Maclean has snared for herself a Dove Award nomination of New Artist of the Year, released a sophomore album, Wanted, and a Christmas single, Bethlehem Skies, a bevy of critical acclaim, and one of the most promising solo female careers in Christian music since Francesca Battistelli. A lot of it is hinged on Maclean’s strong, passionate, and unique vocals, which we all got a taste of in her singles Suitcases, Free, Wanted, and Blameless, as well as her clear and evident love for Jesus.
The first thing one will notice about You Got My Attention is the varied range of sounds and styles on this release. Many critics are quick to dismiss the lack of a cohesive style on a certain album as indicative of the lack of vision; I daresay it’s an opportunity to reach out to as many people as possible when one is confident about one’s message, and on You Got My Attention, it’s clear that Maclean wants to point the attention back to her Savior. Motown, soul, and funk influences abound in this release, helping it set itself apart in a genre known for its cookie-cutter sounds and flavors. It’s effervescent in its joyful declaration of faith and dependence on, and loyalty to, God.
Produced by gifted producer Ian Eskelin, whose work I am familiar with on Avalon’s Reborn album–what on Earth is taking Avalon so long to release a follow-up?!–You Got My Attention positively tingles with excitement. The carrier single and MacLean’s debut release, Suitcases, was a great lead-off and introduction to what MacLean is capable of: strong vocal, catchy chorus, and relevant, grace-filled subject material. Her decision to release The Cannery Sessions, acoustic versions of the track and follow-up single Free, only served to underscore her talent.
You Got My Attention is peppered with other great tracks, but it’s in the title track that MacLean really soars. This Motown-influenced dancefloor stomper comes at you with guns ablaze and horns blaring. all blown up by MacLean’s ridiculously talented voice. It’s a incredible tune, the likes of which are rarely heard in Contemporary Christian music. One of the most irresistible album tracks of the year, bar none. (It’s a shame, honestly, that the lyrics of this song are a bit of a let down. With very little Biblical reference, it could easily work as a secular song, which is not what I’d exactly want to hear in a Contemporary Christian album.)
What soulful references may be lacking in You Got My Attention are more than made up for with the ballads. Yours Forever, in particular, is a honest prayer that has Dara promising her heart and everything she is to God. The closest we get to an actual declaration of Christ comes in The One, where the line You are the Way, the Truth, Jesus, You’re the only One. Other tracks like Home, Good to Me, and Gratitude also have that theme of gratitude running through them, which will help them be relatable to listeners.
Overall, You Got My Attention is a stellar initial effort from an artist who I hope will have a long and storied career in Contemporary Christian music. She certainly has the vocal chops to make it happen, and her heart is all over this release. “Ministering to the broken, unloved, and discouraged, and ultimately showing people God’s better way, is what’s in my heart,” she says. Well, with this release, she certainly got our attention.
RATING: Four stars
Disclaimer: I received a copy of Dara Maclean’s You Got My Attention for review purposes. No other compensation was given; all opinions are my own. Anchor is available at all House of Praise outlets for only Php495.