|A Promising Project | Posted May 22, 2012
At the young age of 29, Indiana native Jon McLaughlin is already what some would call a veteran in the music industry. Not only has he released several highly acclaimed albums, but he's performed on the Academy Awards and has shared the stage with some of the world's most well-known and accomplished artist, including the likes of Adele and Kelly Clarkson. What McLaughlin is known for best, however, is his trademark voice and lyrics. Now, with a brand new label and a huge collaboration all in tow, Promising Promises looks to be his biggest and most anticipated record yet.
Incorporating revamped tracks from his 2011 independent release, Forever If Ever, along with new recordings, it's easy to tell right from the opening and title cut, "Promising Promises," that this album has hit a home run. The track, which highlights McLaughlin's frustration with his former label (Island Def Jam), features a minute-long piano solo that will blow you away and lyrics that embody his ingenuity when it comes to songwriting.
The album's first single, "Summer Is Over," which appeared on last year's release, is given new life with an added duet that features Sara Bareilles, whose success in recent years has been astronomical. An up-tempo, radio-friendly track, the addition of Bareilles seemingly creates somewhat of a masterpiece and by far one of the album's standout tracks. The collaborations don't end there, however. "Maybe It's Over," another highlight on the album, features Xenia Martinez, a finalist in the first season of NBC's The Voice. Xenia's voice is by far one of the most unique and distinguishable in the industry, and the blending of both hers and McLaughlin's is the perfect combination.
The album's overall standout, though, comes in ballad form. "I'll Follow You" not only is a genuinely beautiful piece of music, but the lyrics emphasize the commitment behind a loving relationship, which is a theme that is so often lost in the midst of songwriting.
If one thing is certain, Jon McLaughlin has certainly delivered once again. The one absence is the faith-themed lyrics that once seemed to dominate McLaughlin's writing. Make no mistake: there is absolutely nothing wrong with the lyrical content found here – in fact, it's brilliant. But the elements of Christ that seemed to be more dominant at one point seemed to have been put on the back burner, at least for now. Here's to hoping for a greater return of those themes on future projects. In the time being, I'll happily be keeping this record in regular rotation.
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