Michael McLean

You've Always Been There for Me

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As one listens to this album, one can't help but wonder if they're hearing a feature film soundtrack. The songs are brisk and the pace never lets up through the entire album. The experience Michael McLean gained from his initial releases clearly guided his efforts on this release. The production values are far superior and the singers sound better. True to his trademark, McLean's songwriting skills are concentrated on the easily recognized everyday emotions. A nice touch is the inclusion of all the song lyrics in the album liner, something not found in the earlier releases. This album marks one of the first major collaborations with the talented John Batdorf. A singer/songwriter, composer, and producer, Batdorf moves McLean's work firmly into the rock arena. The pair collaborated on ten of the songs on this album and the effect is similar to the equally excellent Distant Serenade. Arguably their classic is the track "Who Will Be the Real Hero?" Batdorf performs this outing, and the song proved popular enough to be later covered by Greg Simpson on the soundtrack for God's Army. The lyrics touch on the importance of sacrifice and is particularly uplifting for the faithful serving missions. It is set to a driving rock melody carried by guitarist Michael Dowdle's outstanding guitar picking. "...Hero" is followed by Felicia Sorensen singing the perky yet driving tune "You Can't Hide Forever," a rock ballad on the elusive romances of our lives. Especially appropriate to the faithful listener is "Let it Go," a reminder to let go of hate, anger, and other detrimental emotions in our lives: "There's so much of life that can't be lived/When you're still holding on to hate and anger deep inside/Let it go/Letting go opens up the heart." Another touching track is "Gentle" sung in Marie Pearson's soft, smoky alto. It likewise reminds "Life can be hard but we need not be/So hard on ourselves..." Batdorf provides most of the vocals, with Andrea Robinson, Sorensen, Gene Miller, and Marie Pearson all providing additional lead vocals. Batdorf's voice is comparable to Brett Raymond, Brian Adams, Sting, or even Bruce Springsteen. It's somewhat scratchy, but effective all the same, and definitely within the tenor range. This album has general appeal to any rock fan. However, the faithful listener will find much to appreciate in the thoughtful lyrics. In any case, this is a great example of how great McLean and Batdorf are together.

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