Style: Syncopated coffeehouse pop, compare to Brandon Heath, Matthew West
Top tracks: "Better Way," "Control," "Eyes Forward"
Shawn McDonald penned his fourth album through the heartbreak of divorce, so themes of brokenness and longing aren't surprising. What is surprising is that the singer-songwriter noted for honesty stumbles so often into cliché. "Don't give up. Hold on for one more day," may be a helpful mantra for facing tough times, but it's an awfully generic chorus. "Something Real" digs a little deeper. The opener "Better Way" tackles wants versus needs with a soulful touch of slide guitar, and guest-rapped lyrics by Josh Garrels spark "Control." Unfortunately, a closer look behind Closer's soundtrack-ready pop production reveals more broad vagary than depth.1