Jessi McNeal - Promised Land

Published Tuesday 4th October 2016
Jessi McNeal - Promised Land
Jessi McNeal - Promised Land

STYLE: Country
RATING 7 7 7 7 7 7 7
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 157501-23158
LABEL: Independent

Reviewed by Helen Whitall

This is the second album by Washington State's country singer Jessi McNeal. Beginning with the accomplished slide guitar and purring vocals of the title track, the album progresses into the swaggering "Walk Me Out", a song about letting the past go, and then the slow and smooth "Holding You" in which McNeal finds reassurance amidst her insecurities. Sadly, "Spring Thaw" lets the rest of the album down as its lyrics seem unrelated to its tune. With some words uncomfortably stretched out, some so rushed they almost trip over one another, and the emphasis frequently falling awkwardly on the wrong syllables, this one really doesn't scan at all. But it is a blip; "Runaway Horse" is a return to form, full of punchy attitude and soloing guitars and drums. "Minnesota" is a great all-American upbeat tune and takes the listener on a journey through the state as the lyrics tell a story of leaving for a new start elsewhere before eventually returning home. "Beggar At A Feast" is a truly vulnerable and soul-baring piece; she tells of her struggle with self-doubt, feelings of worthlessness, inferiority and not belonging, encountering grace and purpose. After the line-dance-worthy "Stone By Stone", "Embers" is a beautifully evocative, romantic song, which paints a glorious word picture of a summer evening around a campfire; precious moments captured forever in music, just as the lyrics long for. A reworking of Psalm 23 closes out the album on a thankful note. 'Promised Land' may not be my thing, but it is on the whole a very nice work, atmospheric and admirably honest.

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