Dara MacLean

You Got My Attention

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Christian singer/songwriter Dara Maclean cites The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill as a major influence, which, on her debut album, You Got My Attention, turns out to translate as blue-eyed soul singing, for the most part. Songs like "Suitcases" and "Gratitude" show a little bit of Hill's hip-hop sound, but Maclean more often suggests a fellow Dallas, Texas, resident, Norah Jones, and British neo-soul star Amy Winehouse. The arrangements range from the Motown sound of the title song to acoustic ballads like "Had to Be You," supporting Maclean's supple, expressive voice. As a Christian artist, she belongs to that CCM school that tends to de-emphasize religious specifics. "God," "Jesus," and "Father" do turn up here and there, especially later on the disc, but Maclean prefers euphemistic words like "mercy," "grace," and, especially, "love," as, for instance, in "Unreachable," when she is singing to another person who, she believes, is in fact reachable by faith. More often, she is expressing her own devotion, but in a vocabulary that easily could make the casual listener suppose she was pledging romantic love to an especially worthy boyfriend. ("I'm yours forever, my love," she sings in "Yours Forever.") Complicating this somewhat is the inclusion of "Had to Be You," which really does seem to be about a secular relationship, one sanctioned by heaven, since Maclean continues to sing lyrics more or less similar to those in the religious songs. In any case, her singing is effective and her sentiments doubtless sincere.

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