(9th Child Records/High Horse Records)
“Let It Shine” is the new album by singer and songwriter Colleen McFarland, an artist who proves to be talented in both disciplines. All of the songs on the album were written by McFarland and while there are the obligatory Sarah McLachlin-esque ‘singer at the piano’ cuts on here, there are other instruments brought in on many of the songs to give this project a rootsy feel that firmly puts it in the Americana category. But, even on the numerous ‘chick music’ numbers, the compositions are solid and McFarland’s voice is superb.
The album is produced by McFarland and Thomm Jutz, who also plays guitar on 10 of the 13 cuts. Together they bring in musicians such as Mark Fain (bass player for Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder), Pat McInerney on drums, Jan Petter Ringvold on keyboards, and others including Paul Slivka, Rich Malloy, Chris Carmichael, Dave Jacques, Lorne Rall, Harry Sagstuen, Jam Tore Overstad and Kai Frode Mathison.
While this album is a little too mellow for my tastes overall, as alluded to above, there are three stand out songs on here that have held up over many a listening and have stuck with me. The first one is a sweet sounding Sunday morning love song called “Down This Road” that features some beautiful lead and harmony vocals by McFarland. “Pretty Little Bird” is a song that could have been corny beyond belief in the hands of another musician. Yet here, the memorable melody and the arrangement, which kicks into a different gear during the chorus, as well as the fine fiddle work by bluegrasser Shad Cobb make it work. “Fingers On The Button” is my favorite song on the CD. The only true rocker on the album, McFarland’s vocals are fiery as the electric and slide guitars build up to a powerful coda that betrays McFarland’s ability to belt out some rockin’ vocals when needed.