Prime Cuts: Rebel Heart, Rescue, Look Up Child
Overall Grade: 4.5/5
Lauren Daigle is the 21st Century's Cinderella. Over the last three years, she has had literally lived out the life of Cinderella. Back in 2015, Daigle was a relative unknown dreamy-eyed gal from Louisiana. But with the advent of her debut record, How Can It Be, she has become the recipient of almost every conceivable accolade. This includes three Billboard Music Awards, one American Music Awards nomination, gold certifications for three singles and three K-LOVE Fan Awards. Additionally, she sold out headline tours, contributed an original composition to the critically acclaimed Blade Runner: 2049 soundtrack and touring relentlessly. Now, Daigle is the poster child of runaway success, where her Midas touch has recently locked the lead single of this record, "You Say," in at the #1 position within two weeks.
So, after all the fanfare and triumphs, how does album #2 fare? "Look Up Child" is an even better record than her predecessor. This sophomore effort not only demonstrates growth but it does it in a way not at the expense of fans who have been smitten by her previous album. Sure, there are still songs that continue to mine the pop-centric colliery that her debut album started, but "Look Up Child" also finds the 26 year-old exploring new terrains. Most pleasing is that the compass of her songs are pointed in more directions. "Rebel Heart," which is arguably the nerve centre of the record, finds her addressing God directly. Sung as a heartfelt prayer with shivers of a contrition, "Rebel Heart" is a piano-based ballad of worship as Dangle leads us to repentance and renewal over a stirring melody. And to be able hear threads of the hymn "Take my Life" warms the song even more with familiarity.
"Rescue," another gorgeous understated ballad, finds the compass taking a new direction. Viewed now from the vantage of God, "Rescue" gives us privy to God and his love for us in our desperate circumstances. The title track "Look Up Child," which has an old fashioned African-American Gospel swirl, is directed to the despondent with a simple exultation to look to God in the midst of one's darkness. A tad trite and over simplistic in its lyrical content but the song is made up Daigle's earnestness.
Branching off into new sonic sphere is the delightful "Your Wings." Bob Marley would certainly be dancing in his Hawaiian shirt to the reggae beat of this sizzler. Meanwhile, the hymn "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" enjoys a jazz remix that stretches over 6 minutes. But this isn't just some overwrought languid jazz piece, rather the hymn is enliven throughout with some bossa nova to keep the flow engaging. Fans who love the pop-flavour of past hit "Trust in You" will adore "You Say" and "Losing My Religion" (no, this is not the REM song, but this is a Daigle original).
Cinderella, she may be, but she sure is a daring one. Refusing to be stymied within a particular template, this album finds Daigle reaching out. Rather than waiting for her Prince Charming, she has made sure that each of these songs has a unique charm of its own.