Kevin Max of dc talk takes a gospel-rootsy turn on his new CD, The Blood. Photo by Allen Clark from Max's website.
New Year, new website -- checked out LexGo yet? -- and I am going to restart a feature here on ye ol' blog: reviewing new contemporary Christian albums and enumerating the top new releases on Tuesdays. So, let's get down to business:
One of the surprisingly quiet headlines about Kevin Max's new album is that it contains a dc talk reunion. Yes, Kev did invite his former bandmates Michael Tait and Tobymac to join him for a rendition of Prince's The Cross. No, this album sounds nothing like talk.
The Blood is a rootsy effort by Max, not so much in the songs that he chooses, but in the way he presents these tunes. Many of them are timesless classics, such as The Old Rugged Cross, which Max opens the album with, mining his baritone for a Johnny Cash vibe. His voice is a bit too sweet to be confused with the Man in Black, but he does employ a way of sliding up to some phrases that sounds like it would be at home in a 1960s gospel recording studio. He bookends the disc with One Way-One Blood, a duet with Johnny's sister, Joanne Cash. In between are gems such as Run for a Long Time featuring former American Idol competitor Chris Sligh and that classic, People Get Ready, with Erica Campbell. Max has some the best moments to himself though, with stripped down arrangements of songs such as Trouble of the World and They Won't Go When I Go, sparsely populated with instruments such as slide guitar and upright piano as Max testifies for his music. The only real misstep is a trio of Up Above My Head with Vince Gill and Amy Grant. As a track unto itself, it's fine. But it's a conspicuously contemporary track in the middle of a wonderfully retro album.
Out this week: It's early in the year, so there isn't much going on in the new album game except Winter, the second installment of four solo EPs from Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman. Fall, which came out in November, ia a gorgeous disc which sounds at once like unplugged Switchfoot but also adds some unexpected dimensions to Foreman's sound. Check back next Tuesday for a full look at Fall and Winter.