Word Label Group
Release Date: March 31st 2017
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Ashes (feat. Chris McClarney)
From her rise and success in the form of her 2011 debut You Got My Attention, to the 2013 follow-up Wanted that spawned the radio hits ‘Wanted’, ‘Our Only Hope’ and ‘Blameless’; soul-pop music artist Dara Maclean has been able to present to us heartfelt moments of encouragements across these two albums. While it has been 3 and a half years or so since Wanted, Dara nevertheless has released new material on March 31st, in the form of an Easter radio single “Ashes (feat. Chris McClarney)”. While at times I did wonder where Dara was and whether she was releasing any new solo music (like how I wondered what Mandisa was up to- until I realised that she is in the process of releasing her new album titled Out of the Dark in May 2017), Dara’s release is a reminder, that even though artists can take an extended break for whatever reason, the calibre of their music can be just as strong whenever the hiatus is over.
Overall, Dara’s popularity since her out-of-the-box musically diverse debut album has been exponential- with comparisons between her and Francesca Battistelli (as well as comparisons between her and mainstream counterpart Adele) in terms of her vocals and musical style, and hearing “Ashes” now ever cements the comparison, that Dara’s music is as unique and musically diverse, as it is resemblant of various musical styles of other artists (namely the aforementioned artists Francesca and Adele). Nevertheless, “Ashes” is a long time coming for fans of Dara and her music- here’s hoping we don’t have to wait another four years for another new song. Dara carries on musically from her album Wanted, as we are given a departure from her style that we once were drawn to from You Got My Attention. While her style was initially geared towards soul-pop, Dara’s emphasis on lyrically sound and prominent tracks as opposed to a much more musical flair and diversity on her debut album, is able to be seen, not only on her 2013 album Wanted but here on her song “Ashes” as well- which is not necessarily a bad thing.
“Ashes” provides us all with a more uplifting Hillsong-esque atmosphere, while still keeping her soul-pop musical influence and her distinct vocals that shine through, coupled with the added vocal of worship leader Chris McClarney (writer of popular worship song “Your Love Never Fails”). “Ashes” showcases a sense of maturity from Dara- with a tad under 4 years between new material, Dara’s heart for worship has continued to grow. Since Wanted, we’ve seen her release a live medley of sorts (“Blameless/How He Loves”) on iTunes, as well as her contributing to a live worship collective project titled One Worship last year, as we see her heart for encouraging worship grow. “Ashes” is a worship song, and could potentially be in rotation on Sunday morning worship set lists in a few weeks in time for Easter 2017. And who cannot love the song even more, when we hear the heart behind it from Dara herself- ‘…Ashes represent death. I don’t know about you, but is there any area of your past you can look back to and see ashes? See brokenness, places you want to mend, places that have any kind of devastation? I think that’s all of us. I see a world of beauty and brokenness all around us, namely because I’ve seen myself. However, I’ve seen something greater. I’ve seen Jesus, seen the way He works, the way He heals, the way He completely and totally restores what was horrifically and utterly stolen and once dead…I pray your heart comes alive as you discover Gods heart for you in the face of what Jesus did through His death and resurrection. Thank you for listening and sharing my new song #Ashes with those that need to hear the greatest story ever written, the story of the cross…’
“Ashes” is a long time coming for anyone who is a Dara Maclean fan, like myself. Yet, if artists like Britt Nicole, Mandisa and Nichole Nordeman can make comebacks, surely Dara can as well. “Ashes” is timely, releasing during Easter season, as we reflect upon what the Saviour has done for us as we worship Him for who He is. With soulful worship moments and Chris McClarney enthusiastically delivering backing vocals, this is a must have for anyone who has enjoyed Dara’s previous work- probably stylistically more inclined with Wanted than You Got My Attention, having more of a worship atmosphere compared to the soul-pop of her debut. Regardless, this is hopefully the first song of many new songs from Dara as we look ahead to the remainder of 2017. Whatever the case, Dara’s efforts ought to be commended, this song is by far one of my favourite Easter-themed songs since “Mercy Tree”. Well done Dara for such a powerful song, and one to enjoy and cherish if you love similar artists like Lauren Daigle, Francesca Battistelli and Kerrie Roberts!
3 songs to listen to: Ashes, Ashes, Ashes… on repeat if you enjoy Dara MacLean and her music
RIYL: Lauren Daigle, Francesca Battistelli, Ginny Owens, Kerrie Roberts