Macleod’s mix of Celtic-tinged folk, Americana, rock, soul and electronica follows the template of how Christians should make music: honest, God-centred, appealing to the wider world - and superbly put together. This one needs to fly above the radar.
Time: 10 tracks / 42 mins
It seems like understanding mental illness is one of the biggest cultural shifts of late, and Macleod – who has suffered from addiction and poor mental health – wants to encourage conversation about the subject and tackle stigma.
He says that these songs, “Were inspired by my own journey of recovery. The more we talk, listen and ask questions [about emotional transparency] the more we come to understand: it’s OK to come to God in our brokenness... I’ve experienced first-hand how understanding and compassion draws healing and hope from a place of brokenness and fear.”
He tackles the subject head-on here, but in a way that anyone can relate to and enjoy. His warm, soulful voice draws you into his story “Deep down in the darkness, my chains are invisible ... I long for a miracle. Come save my soul again.”
“One day at a Time” echoes the twelve-step programme as he sings, “I drank heavy and popped pills with my fake friends for the cheap thrills” before powerfully asserting, “I believe in a higher power.”
“Grace” is a direct plea for salvation, which packs a harder punch than normal, because it relates to a specific past.
Production is uncluttered here and sensitive to the songs. “Still Waters” and “Grace” have electronica-edged piano hanging and reverberating in the space. “Let there be Light” is bluesy, acoustic and authentic.
He can go from a rollicking acoustic attack on drink in "Old John Barleycorn" to a hard rocking riff-based celebration of the “power of love that came and rescued me” on the exhilarating “Soul Searching,” where he gives synth roles to places that are normally the domain of guitars. It really adds extra zing. It’s a bit like a mix of “Spirit in the Sky,” ZZ Top and Goldfrapp – and a joy to leave on repeat.
This Scottish singer-songwriter (and his production team) uses a range of styles and make them all work faithfully. An exciting aspect to this is that he also leads worship. Let’s hope that he lets this mix of Celtic-tinged folk, Americana, rock, soul and electronica filter into that area too, to break down the worship scene’s hegemony of blandness.
This is a celebration of songwriting, production and heartfelt praise all glued together with authenticity. If you want to give an addicted friend some musical grace, this is as good a place to start as any – but you will probably want to keep a copy for yourself, too.