Album Review - Back & Forth - Lanae Hale

This will be an interesting exercise for me... writing an album review for someone I've met and had a conversation with. (Although I kind of did a Crowder review...) Will it personalize it? Make me whimpy-soft?

We won't find out here, because Lanae Hale's debut full-length record, Back & Forth, is good. As I wrote in my review of Kari Jobe, I don't listen to a lot of female vocalists. And Back & Forth came to me at a bad time; it streeted while I was preparing to play at Lifepath Church's grand opening weekend. So I gave it a couple of quick listens, but my head was really filled with some Vigilantes of Soul that week.

But, I've had time to not only listen to the record, but to meet Lanae and to listen to her perform live. One thing I can tell you is that this is a very personal project for the artist. Each of the songs on the record come from a very deep place within the young songwriter. During her live show - just her and her guitar a la Phil Wickham - she spends time weaving her testimony among the songs. Maybe this made me more receptive to the record, but that's OK. In my mind, "play live" is what an musician does; studio work serves to get people to the shows.

The title track is an easily listened-to, radio-pop good tune, as is "Beautiful Things." "Estranged" is a surprisingly driving rock song, with a powerful tale of God's grace. "Headed Home" packs the most emotional punch, and if I were mastering the record, I might have saved it for last.

Production, though, is excellent throughout, and completely Nashville. It was an interesting listen, given the stripped down, acoustic versions of the songs I heard last weekend, to hear the fully-produced and -arranged version on the album. One constant, though; Lanae's voice is amazing, not only in its range, but in its emotional content. She's got kind of a Sarah McLaughlin/Taylor Swift thing going, with great dynamics and a ton of feeling.

My wife and daughters all fell in love with Lanae as soon as they heard her, and more so once they met her. She was approachable and genuine... just like her music.


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