Artist:  Richie McDonald
Title:  I Turn to You
Label:  Lucid Artist

It’s not every day the lead vocalist for a superstar country band steps down to pursue a solo career, a risky move. But last year, Richie McDonald did just that. Shocking millions of fans, the acclaimed singer/songwriter resigned from his 12-year post as Lonestar’s award-winning front man in order to spend more time with his family and to fulfill a lifelong dream of recording an album focused on faith. McDonald’s first solo release, I Turn to You, converts that dream into a reality.

Growing up in the church, McDonald has long desired a forum in which he could outlet his specific beliefs in a way that didn’t always fit into the arenas of a platinum-selling country act. Taking the evocative vocal that made “Amazed” and “I’m Already There” smash hits, the Texas native lends his signature to 10 original songs of faith, helping pen all but two of the CD’s tracks.

Blatant affidavits of faith like the radio-ready opener “Carry the Cross” and “Handle with Prayer” might as well be the next Lonestar singles with tight production and hooky choruses. The title cut issues an impeccable production of melody and lyric, making its election as the first radio single a no-brainer. And the simple accompaniment of McDonald’s vulnerable vocal on the achingly honest album closer, “Hey God,” forms a beautiful offering of thanks for life—the good and the bad.

McDonald’s solo move is not unparalleled. Since popular music’s inception, the gospel music industry has deservedly hosted the inspirational side projects of many musical celebrities. Disappointingly, these projects often fail to live up to the artist’s mainstream releases, suffering from lower budgets or a capitalist mentality, using fame to sell merchandise to a large church demographic.

McDonald’s I Turn to You avoids this stereotypical fate. If ever McDonald doubted the change in his musical focus, I Turn to You proves he has absolutely nothing to worry about.

 ©2008 ChristianMusicPlanet.com.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.




*This review first published on July 14, 2008.