|The Hopeful Side | Posted September 17, 2012
Gabriel Wilson's debut full-length solo project, The McGuire Side, is the interesting life-story of a man dealing with the familiar struggle of growing up in a broken home, seeking to find the other half of his identity. Titled after his father's side of the family, Wilson reflects on his personal experiences as he sings and strums his way through every track.
"I hope and pray this record will inspire reconciliation--fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, and beyond," said Wilson, the former front man of Rock & Roll Worship Circus. "And I hope that anyone dealing with feelings of loss or abandonment will hear that good old-fashioned Gospel message here: God is real, His love is perfect and when we find our identity and peace in Him we can then extend grace and mercy to those around us--even as they extend the same to us."
Starting off with title track, "The McGuire Side," Wilson quietly plucks at his guitar strings as he shares the story of growing up without a father. The raw sound of his vocals and comes through as he sings, "Momma raised me / And Jesus was my dad / But I was cool with that." With just a voice and a guitar, the first track sets the stage for not only the Americana sound of the album, but the introspective tone as well.
"Rocking Chair" is a quiet, melancholy song about a mother explaining to her son that the leaving of his father may be difficult, but they'll get through it because, "Our God is strong and He'll never leave you." As the song starts to slow, it progresses right into the next track "Hold Your Head Up." The tone suddenly gets more hopeful and upbeat with added percussion, vocals, and strings as Wilson sings, "After the winter / There's always a spring / Out comes the sunshine / Gonna change everything / No matter the struggle / No matter how dark / Baby the sunshine's gonna bring / Peace to your heart." This just shows the positive impact that knowing God's promises and relying on His truth can have on a situation.
There are several specifically spiritual songs towards the end of the album that are reminiscent of the old-time Gospel songs you'd hear in a country church. With added instruments like the organ and slide guitar, these tracks bring a unique feel to the later part of the album. Ending with the familiar hymn, "Amazing Grace," the intro is played by bagpipes and continued by piano and the rhythmic strumming of a guitar. Wilson adds the bridge, "How I love You, Lord / Because You first loved me / How I love You, Lord / Because You rescued me." This serves as a perfect ending to a story such as Wilson's and any story for that matter, reminding us that no matter our life-story, God's grace is always sufficient.
The McGuire Side is the genuine and hopeful story of Gabriel Wilson, as well as many others who have faced or are facing similar struggles in their lives. With an Americana feel and introspective tone, Wilson embraces his own experiences and sets them to music so that others can be encouraged to find their identity in Christ, and ultimately mend those broken relationships. I am truly thankful for honest artists like Wilson who are unafraid to touch on life's realities, so that others will know they're not alone.
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