Lisa McClendon Inter-Review

Written by: John Burton Jr.

The Princess of Rhythm and Praise is back! Lisa McClendon has returned with a new project, outlook on life, and an indomitable spirit to praise God no matter what. Gospelflava.com had the pleasure of catching up with the gospel neo-soul songstress to talk about her new release, new lease on life and what’s new outside of music.
lisamcclendon5amcdOver the past decade, McClendon has wowed us with her sultry, organic, and spiritual vocals. Although she rose to prominence with the song “You Are Holy” from Soul Music (2003), her first CD release “My Diary, Your Life” debuted in 2002 (definitely worth a listen). Subsequently she released “Soul Music”, “Live from the House of Blues” (2006), “Reality” (2009), and “Christmas with You” (2010). However since that time, she seemed to have vanished. Many wondered, “Where is Lisa McClendon?” Her stalwart answer is, “Home.” She jovially added, “I’ve been home. I needed to take time out to be wife and mother. Plus, my husband Maurice had just started a ministry and I needed to be there to help. I knew I had to put some things on hold. It was hard, but it was worth it.”

Now she’s back! What took so long many would wonder? This wasn’t a 3 to 6 month project, McClendon says, “It’s been in the making for the last 3 years.” As to why, “My story wasn’t done” she admitted. As she was doing life, she was gaining life also. If you are a social media McClendon devotee, she talks about her personal ups and downs, especially her bouts with depression. When many would omit this storyline, McClendon shares it. “I share my truth about my depression because truth sets you free. I was truthful and honest with myself.” She described her time away simply as the color gray. “I was confused. There wasn’t a black or white. I hadn’t had my 5 AM moment yet. I had some stuff I needed to experience.” Then her breakthrough came! In the breaking, she felt the desire to write again. “I started pouring out. Every song is a different place during the season that I had to go through.” Her most liberating revelation was, “God told me, I will never be perfect. I said amen. Now, it’s okay. I’m me and I’m progressing.” Life experiences such as these always make for superb song material for stellar albums. Hence her new project “5 AM.”

McClendon emotes “5AM” is her best work to date. The 12-track project beautifully chronicles her journey from breaking to breakthrough. Each vocal and musical morsel hearkens back to the McClendon we first became enamored by. The playful “Turning the Corner”, tender-hearted “You”, passionate and poised “Invisible” superbly crack the seal on this recording. From track 3 to 4 you feel an island breeze on “Your Will.” Here the Florida native boasts a Caribbean-vibe all about surrendering to God’s will. She easily transitions into a Latin flare with acoustic guitar on “Bigger.” McClendon showcases she is a girly girl; sugar and spice and everything nice on “The Girl Song.” Whereas she absolutely enchants us with her signature rhythm and praise is on “Hold My World” and her favorite song on the project “Fly.” The back story behind “Fly” is a mere conversation with one of closest friends. “This was during that time I was going through. “I” felt lost…being a First Lady, wife and mom. It was hard for me to walk (emotionally),” she explained. Then a friend gave her a boost of encouragement by saying, “You need to start flying again. It’s hard being a pigeon when you’re an eagle.” She took those words to heart. She changed her outlook and now declares; “I’m flying again. It made me realize how great God is.”

One of the hard-hitting and “boss-like” tracks on this release is “Million Dollars.” Frankly speaking, it was a truly unexpected single but it blessed my socks off! She joined forces with Sean C. Johnson and they evoke the same tenor as Mary J. Blige and Method did on “All I Need.” This musical gem’s tale explains that even if they possessed millions, it wouldn’t be enough to thank others and more importantly God for what He’s done. The title track “5 AM” is equally impressive! An artful wake up song, it is centered on how early morning is McClendon’s ideal time to wake and start her day, talking to God. The hook, “Good morning, Father, Father” easily gets lodged in the recesses of your mind. It acts as a musical reminder of “Did you speak to God today?” She closes the project with the reverential “No Other Name” which is a composed song of worship then revs the worship throttle all the way up with hip-hop/rock fusion of “Rock Star.”

Since McClendon’s skies are all cleared up, she’s been a busy woman! She adds the title of author to her brand. “The Proverbial Girl” a 31-Day Devotional, is a funny, inspirational and challenging story guide for girls, like her daughter Diamond. Its goal is to educate them how to carry themselves through the guise of the scriptural passage Proverbs 31. You will soon be able to hear more of McClendon on the radio, but not just singing. She and her husband are joining forces to host a radio show this year. “I’m excited to be working with him!” she exclaimed.

After a listen to “5 AM” you can clearly detect that McClendon’s skies are no longer gray but blue, sky blue. In our chat she repurposes a line from the Clark Sisters’ song, “My sky is light blue, because sky’s the limit to what I can have.” The mantra that knits this project together is McClendon’s heart. Each track is a lyrical personification of her heartbeat with God’s love permitting each pulse. Welcome back Lisa!

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