Joy Whitlock | God and a Girl
Christian rock presents a lot of artists who simply appear to be part of “mirror culture,” a Christian Avril Lavigne, Christian Maroon 5 or whatever the flavor-of-the-moment-a-few-moments-ago is.
Joy Whitlock is an artist with something to say, as opposed to something to be.
According to her press biography, Whitlock is a fairly new Christian, a preacher’s daughter who went through something of a dark journey before embracing her faith. And one of the first artists to embrace her was Todd Agnew, whose taste for songs of faith that still ask questions is reflected in Whitlock’s full-length debut album, God and a Girl.
There are some moments on the album that soar into full radio-friendly production such as Holding on to Me. But a lot of the disc tracks much closer to the opener, The Cost of Being Free, a bluesy tune with guitars buzzing and twanging straight through the amps while Whitlock sings with the graveliest alto we’ve heard in Christian rock since Jennifer Knapp.
Many of the songs seem to have autobiographical roots, songs about shedding a sketchy past for a life of faith that can sometimes be hard to navigate and stick with. Testify is a particularly striking, plainspoken testimony that really comes in the form of the singer confessing and asking God to testify for her. It ends with a sober perspective on a common childhood prayer:
Now if I should die in my sleep
Something grabs hold of this heartbeat
Whether I struggle or go in peace
All that I ask
Is let it be you that I see
The primary fault in the disc is really length. At 14 tunes and a little over an hour in playing time, it does start to drag a bit. Trimming out a few cuts may have given Whitlock a more succinct and consistent first impression. But then we hear so few voices like Whitlock’s, it seems a tad silly to complain about too much of her. She comes onto the scene as an authentic voice, and you want to wish her success, and wish that success won’t spoil her.
Versailes- and Georgetown- based Eyesuponus is also out with a debut disc. Fishers of Men is the first bow for the the quartet that got a pretty big gig in the Summer of 2007, when it placed in the money in the Ascenxion Scout competition and was rewarded with a set at the Ichthus Festival.
That boost really gave the group a sense of mission heading out of the festival.
Fishers of Men was another year in the making, but now that it’s done, the guys in the band are using all available venues to market it, putting the CD in most area Christian and mainstream record stores, including CD Central and Joseph-Beth Booksellers. It’s also available on Amazon, iTunes and many other e-tailers and download sites.
Photo, above: Eyesuponus -- L-R, Jonathan Hensley, Christopher Cool, Chris Simpson and Eric Drane -- played the Edge Stage at Ichthus June 16, 2007. The Versailes band's set was their reward for coming in fourth in the Ascenxion Scout Competition. Photo by Rich Copley | LexGo.