April McLean


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This is a great record. It's not just good, or even really good -- it's flat-out great. Want to know why? Because April McLean can write and sing like nobody's business. And never has a heart-sleeved shirt sounded prettier. Thematically and musically reminiscent of Sarah McLachlan's Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, Becoming holds that same allure, but brings listeners in for an even closer look at the artist's emotional landscape. For McLean has pulled out a microscope to examine every little nook and cranny of her life, sharing her revelations with startling intimacy. These stories are overflowing with questions of faith, self-doubt, abuse, and shame. Some of the songs would almost be hard to listen to if the uneasiness of the subject matter wasn't shrouded in such uplifting melodic beauty and profound lyrical poetry. She was also sly in her sketching of antagonists, perhaps purposely making them vague, leaving the door open for some interpretation -- though it's hard to imagine anyone but a lover or parent having enough impact on a life to leave the scars heard healing here. In support of her message, the production and instrumentation are perfectly executed. As an example, when edgy guitars sneak in to emphasize the sentiment of hatred and rage playing against the ironically bouncy backdrop of staccato piano on "So Far Away," your ears perk up to pay a tad bit more attention and you kind of get a little antsy. It would be extraordinarily difficult to single out songs for individual merit. Suffice it to say that they are all superb, and in a perfect world "Superhero" would storm the pop charts. To prove that television, at least, has good taste, four of these tracks have been featured on episodes of Felicity. McLean is an important artist who actually has something to say that's worth listening to. All the better that it's so enjoyable a task.

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