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Live in Seattle

  • reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Apr
Live in Seattle
Sounds like … the casual and soulful acoustic stylings of John Mayer and Bebo Norman mixed with the white-bred urban edge of Jason Mraz or Mat Kearney.At a glance … live versions of many tracks from McDonald's debut CD and a handful of new or rare selections stripped down to their bare bones. Track Listing Here I Am Take My Hand All I Need Open Me Hold On Have You Ever Perfectly Done Without You Home Beautiful Gravity Over the Rainbow

When Shawn McDonald debuted last year with Simply Nothing, he found favor with a blend of acoustic rock and hip-hop. But almost more magnetic than the music was his inspirational testimony, which told the tale of falling into drug addiction and then coming clean in Christ. Now that he's had the chance to share those songs and stories on stage, many have been impacted by his road to redemption.

Live in Seattle is an extension of those tour dates, placing the singer/songwriter in an intimate setting where he sings and tells his story throughout stripped down arrangements and bits of conversation. Amongst the most familiar tracks are the radio hits "Gravity" and "All I Need," both showcasing McDonald's scruffy but soulful voice. Additional highlights are the cozy "Hold On" and the redemptive "Take My Hand," which also seem to take on a more relatable personality in the sparseness of the stage.

Followers of his independent work will note the inclusion of the meditative "Without You," while those hoping for new material are treated to previews of "Perfectly Done" and "Home," mid-tempoed selections revolving around a quirky blend of confident and quivering vocals. Both tracks also hint at a more introspective lyrical direction, compared to past songs that typically favor more general, faith-based themes. As the record closes out with a cover of "Over the Rainbow," he builds a bridge between a somewhat generic but enjoyable debut and an even more promising follow-up.