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Tara MacLean Passenger CD Cover
Image © Nettwerk Productions 2000

Tara MacLean
Image © Nettwerk Productions 2000

(05 March 2000) Singer songwriter Tara McLean's second album entitled Passenger (Nettwerk (Canada) 0 76700 30144 2 7, 2000) is comprised of twelve well produced vocally intense alternative, yet highly accessible, tracks. An especially lovely booklet accompanies the compact disc. Aged 26 at this writing, Tara MacLean was born on Prince Edward Island, in Canada's eastern Maritime Provinces. She lived until the age of four in a log cabin in the woods with her monther, an accomplished actress and her Father, a country and gospel singer songwriter. Tara was discovered while singing with friends on the top deck of a ferry boat en route to a tiny island off the coast of British Columbia by Nettwerk Records staffers. After taping a few songs for them, Tara was signed to the label, and her debut eleven-track album Silence (review) was released in 1996. MacLean toured for two straight years with Paula Cole, Ron Sexsmith, and the Barenaked Ladies. She has carved her own style and astounded audiences with her honesty and unforgettable voice and was named Best New Solo Artist at the Canadian Radio Music Awards in 1997.

From her website, "The unending cycle of Human in nature, myth, unity and chaos and the elements that make up life are some of the subjects in Tara's new songs, which weave shimmering organic melodies with an undulating trip-hop undertow, a musical correlative to feeding the soul without ignoring the flesh." The album was produced in New Orleans by Malcolm Burn and Bill Bell. The lush arrangements include piano, guitar, other strings including violin, viola and cello, as well as trumpet, drums and percussion. Tara's soft and sweet vocal work is stunning throughout with soaring excursions showing tremendous power and range.

A ballad that develops into a soft rock tune entitled "Jericho" opens the album. The moving ballad "Dry Land" is a certain highlight of the album and among several tracks on the album with a similar style. The chorus has a lovely hook demonstrating the accessibility of MacLean's music and powerful voice. The soft rock "If I Fall" and ballads "Jordan" and "Blinded" exhibit rich string arrangements that support the stunning vocal work. "Reach," "Settling" and the title track "Passenger" are sung most evocatively, in a style suitable for Dawson's Creek, Roswell and other popular WB television shows, with arrangements building to powerful proportions in the songs' choruses. The soft and melodic ballad "La Tempête" is sung emotionally in French with very light instrumentation.

The album's dancier tunes include "Divided" and "Poor Boy" with their pop-oriented Britney Spears-like trip-hop beat and whispy vocals. The "Higher" is an accessible soft rock track with Celtic whistle that echoes the memorable vocal melody, reminiscent in spots of of a much earlier Judy Collins track ("Both Sides Now"). Soaring vocalise join rocking world beat rhythms in a stunning untitled bonus track that closes the album (listen for the "Scarborough Fair" melody within it).

You can order Tara MacLean's Passenger for a bargain price at amazon.com here or her debut album Silence here. A tremendous follow up album by a talented singer songwriter, Tara Maclean's Passenger is certainly worthy of further exploration and a journey—a very nice listen!

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