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Roots by Shawn McDonald

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Review of Roots

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The Advocate

Roots by Shawn McDonald

Reviewed by Adrian B. Martinez

"...this lyrically reflective collection is Shawn's most personal and effective album so far."

In a year where the troubadour has definitely seen a resurgence by way of successful releases from both Contemporary and Contemporary Christian artists such as John Mayer, Jason Mraz, Patty Griffin, Jack Johnson, Robbie Seay Band, and Mat Kearney, Shawn McDonald’s 4th studio album, Roots contains a blend of all of the above, some of whom he lists as his influences. It isn’t hard to see why.

Having written or co-written all 12-tracks, Roots continues the journey he had embarked on in “Ripen” and “Simply Nothing”. According to McDonald, “This is the message that I want to come across: being a man that flourishes in Christ.” As the title implies, Roots finds McDonald even more grounded in his creative abilities. While “Simply Nothing” came after he kicked his drug addictions and welcomed Christ into his heart; “Ripen” arrived after his marriage and adjusting to married life. Roots appropriately enough finds McDonald settling in to his faith, as well as his roles of husband and new father to son, Cohen Reid.

Set to McDonald’s familiar blend of singer-songwriter rock, this lyrically reflective collection is his most personal and effective album so far. “For me it was a time of rejoicing in the growth that I feel like God has put into my life,” he shares.

This growth is also relevant in his collaborations with other songwriters on this project. “I think with the past records it was almost a sense of pride--I just didn’t want other people’s names on it,” McDonald shares. On Roots, he has put that pride aside with contributions from such writers as Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman on “Clarity”, and Marc Byrd who co-wrote “Wash Me Clean”, described as a pop-friendly acoustic groove (reminiscent of Jack Johnson). Further adding to the beauty of these tracks one must include the lush sounds of the cello and violins used on numerous tracks, “Waltz 3" and the haunting finale “Hallelujah” to name a few.

With Roots, Shawn McDonald has moved onto a new phase in his life with this mellow, passionate acoustic pop and alt-folk album. “I want to hear new things; I want to hear new thoughts and ideas; I want to hear growth.” These "Roots" firmly planted, ever pushing, and spreading itself, Shawn McDonald has secure Roots to grow on.

Adrian B. Martinez: "Music and Movies, Movies and Music, always the twain shall meet" is Adrian B. Martinez's motto; a displaced New Yorker living in Connecticut. A complete Movie nut, Adrian was responsible for writing movie synopsis' for Loews Movie Theater's for over 5 years. At any given time that would be a synopsis for over 25 movies in one week. Whew! Nowadays, she is a regular in the Press area for the Creation Festival and Purple Door Festival. To keep her in the lifestyle she has become accustomed, she does web-design for DelMonico Hatter in New Haven, Ct. and serves as a Supervisor for the Hartford Civic Center, also in Ct. An avid traveler, Adrian has been to Europe numerous times and can be seen criss-crossing the United States in her re-furbished 1974 Orange Volkswagen Vanagon which has allowed her to participate in her favorite past-time, meeting new people….When she does take the time to stop, she spends her time with a very handsome man that goes by the name of Zorro. He can be seen sleeping on the couch, bed, bathing in the sunlight on a window ledge or anywhere else that he deems comfortable. Zorro of course, is her cat.