Reviewed by Susan Lloyd
Introducing Chris McClarney
"[McClarney's] got a clear musical vision, he’s got a gift of a voice, and his music is timeless and contemporary all at once. He’s definitely one to watch..."
New worship artist
Chris McClarney may see things begin to happen very quickly in his career
after the release of his debut CD on January
26th of this year. This inspiring artist has put together an EP that is uplifting,
fresh, and truly has several potential hits in the track listing. Being supported
by Kingsway and distributed by EMI CMG doesn’t hurt his efforts to
get his music out there, either. McClarney is no stranger to recording having
put a full length CD on iTunes well over a year ago, and a boost from Kingsway
should get this incredibly talented singer/songwriter the type of exposure
One spin of the EP gives the listener a very clear idea of who McClarney is as an artist and what his musical vision is like. Not only is McClarney a worship artist who sings with a great deal of emotion, he’s also a skilled vocalist whose vocal texture beautifully rests against the backdrop of blues and soul tinged instrumentation.
McClarney goes beyond producing the typical worship song by making the songs memorable but not so simple they become bland after a few listens. He seems to write from a place most people can relate to with a theme of redemption strongly woven into each song. McClarney has nailed it when it comes to offering different shades of that theme, too. While each song on the EP can stand on its own power, hearing all six songs together gives one the sense that McClarney understands grace, he understands failure, and he understands the forever love that he’s been given by the savior he worships.
The EP works on many different levels and flows well for several reasons. Songs with brighter tempos are followed by more contemplative ones in a nice ebb and flow. McClarney’s consistency as a vocalist ties every song together, and the persistent use of organ, blues guitar and understated instrumentation allow the listener to listen more deeply to each track without being blown out by an overproduced sound.
Standout songs include the opener “Your Love Never Fails” which if given the proper airplay will be a hit and one McClarney will find himself playing at shows for years to come. With a strong message, McClarney’s expressive voice, and a rich rootsy instrumental arrangement, the song is accessible without losing artistry. “Still Saving Me” features a smoky Hammond organ with sparse guitar and brushed drums allowing McClarney’s soulful voice to push to the front and really drive the song. Each song is strong, but I’m especially impressed by what McClarney has done with the melodic line in “Blessed Assurance” turning an old hymn into an introspective, thoughtfully expressed testimony that feels fresh.
Personally, I’m very excited for Chris McClarney. He’s got a clear musical vision, he’s got a gift of a voice, and his music is timeless and contemporary all at once. He’s definitely one to watch, and in a genre of music that has every potential to swallow up new artists without a definitive sound, McClarney has everything going for him that will prevent that from happening. His EP is not just another praise album that fills the airwaves with white noise, it’s an artistic statement that inspires.
Susan Lloyd is a professional photographer in Charleston, South Carolina who specializes in shooting concerts. She holds a degree in Music Education and has worked as a worship leader and as a youth minister. She is passionate about all types of music and enjoys encouraging and supporting bands who seek to glorify God. She also loves movies, animals, traveling, and making new friends. She and her husband have three kids and have been married for nearly 17 years. More info about Susan's photography can be found at www.susanlloydphotography.com or www.susieq3c.wordpress.com