lara landon overcome as reviewed in Phantom TollboothLandon’s rich voice, free of excess production, makes this CCM for grown-ups

Label: Independent (
Time: 12 tracks / 49 Minutes

Not all singers deserve their fame, but Landon has a voice that merits a record deal. Her looks and heart are part of who she is, but her vocal strength is at the core of this album.

Who does she sound like? On the opener “Better for the Breaking,” she shows traces of Jennifer Knapp; it is Sara Groves on “The River,” with a dash of Kate Bush and Amy Grant elsewhere. Throughout the disc, she has the gravitas of someone much older than her 26 years.

The disc’s beginning feels stronger than its end, largely because it is in the early stages that there is such little clutter around this striking voice. Producer Mitch Dane has a difficult job, because he is taking over from Michael Omartian (Amy Grant, Rod Stewart), who produced her début. But with Landon’s warm and confident voice as his subject, Dane only needs several soft brush strokes to wrap colour around her singing.

Like several of the earlier pieces, “Defenceless” is almost classical, as she is accompanied by only a piano and a touch of discreet violin. Self-harmonies and a light spray of guitar are the other sounds almost taking turns to accentuate her voice at the start.

While not a concept album, the disc does take the listener step-by-step from the hurt of a broken relationship, via healing and the difficulty of making some choices, to seeking God and then the hope of overcoming trials.

“Better for the Breaking” was written when a long-term relationship ended and she sings the song as a broken woman, but the track has a coda that exclaims,
     “Finally I have the chance to be awakened...
     It’s the choice that I have made to live again
     And I’ll be better for the breaking.”

As the disc progresses, Landon continues to be both honest and scriptural. At the end, “Overcome” celebrates Christian hope without sinking into triumphalism, and the closer, “The Spirit of the Lord” earths the disc in Jesus’ manifesto, taken from Isaiah.

Don’t expect many hooks. “The River” and “I See God in You” are more pop-oriented, but most songs are more nuanced, occasionally spiced by Eastern tones (“Look East”) or classical guitar.

Sometimes almost à capella, with an occasional foray into pop backing and often with just enough instrumentation to tone the song, Landon produces honest CCM for grown-ups.  


Derek Walker

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