130. Shelter – Lone Justice
Damn that Maria McKee can really sing.
That may be the single greatest understatement in the first 370 post on this list. But really, if anyone can find a better way to express the sheer power, passion and presence of McKee’s vocal virtuosity, have at it. It was said co-Producer Little Steve (E Street Band) remarked that McKees vocal performance on “Inspiration” was the most powerful and passionate vocal he had heard since Bruce Springsteens “Adam Raised a Cain.” Mighty high praise indeed. And well deserved.
More commercially appealing than the debut, Shelter infused a little more country rock and significantly less cow punk. It is better produced (in some spots a bit over-produced) and the songwriting is more accessible with superior ballads and a more consistent sound. It should have been the record to make Lone Justice rock stars. Rather, it became their swan song.
I Found Love and Shelter were both that singles that just never broke through, though they ended being covered by a few CCM artists including Geoff Moore. But the real strength on this album is on the deeper cuts and ballads. Beacon, Belfry and Dreams Come True all rock with great guitar work and McKe’s emotive presence. And as mentioned earlier, Inspiration is just an emotional vocal tour de force with a once in a lifetime performance.
The two side-ending ballads should also be noted. Wheels is a beautiful country song that should be covered by a more modern country female vocalist. The album closer, Dixie Storms, is just haunting and would point to the direction McKee would follow in her solo career.