LABEL: ESSENTIAL RECORDS
RELEASE DATE: JULY 10, 2012
I’ve always silently wondered to myself, “What will the Christian music world do when Third Day decides to call it a…well…day?” With the arrival of the Rhett Walker Band’s Essential Records debut Come To The River, my question has been answered. Guided along by Nashville uber-producer Paul Moak (Jennifer Knapp, Mat Kearny, Third Day), Rhett Walker and his band have created a stunner of an initial offering. This is solid Southern rock that manages not to sound derivative. The same way that Third Day managed to sound like a Christian version of Lynyrd Skynyrd without sounding like an absolute ripoff, the Rhett Walker Band seems comfortable somewhere between sounding like Third Day and Decyfer Down, Walker’s distinctive vocals lending themselves to what is seemingly the future of Christian Southern rock.
“Gonna Be Alright” starts off the album and instantly the listener is aware that this “out of nowhere” band is a force to be reckoned with. A little bit country, a little bit good old fashioned rock & roll, Rhett Walker belts out, Cause I know/This I know/That this world is leaving me dry/And I know/This I know/That with you its gonna be alright, before a chorus of layered voices joins him.
Title track “Come To The River” is likely the song people have been hearing make the rotation on CHR. And, while it is a decent track, it is far from the best track on the album. That being said, I found it reminiscent of Third Day’s initial Offerings project (not to be confused with the lackluster Offerings II).
“Can’t Break Me” is a pure Southern rock masterpiece-in-the-making. I liked everything about it. The go ahead guitars, Walker’s vocals, smart pauses where the instruments drop out, clever crescendos at the right moment…it just works on so many levels.
Leslie Jordan of All Sons & Daughters joins Walker on album closer “Singing Stone” and the pairing proves beautiful. Her voice compliments Walker’s in so many ways. Co-written with Burlap to Cashmere frontman Steven Delopolous, the words I look for miles over the open seas/This world ain’t as pretty as it was/Hypnotized by the rays of the earthly dreams/Going through the motions just because flow brilliantly and calmly from their lips. One gift that can always be attributed to Delopolous is his ability to make heaven kiss the earth in his lyrics.
And that’s just a small sampling of this project. There honestly isn’t a track I didn’t like.
You may have noticed that I’ve mentioned Walker’s vocals quite a bit in this review. The reason for that is because I just don’t think that there are that many voices in CCM that are distinct. You know when you hear Mac Powell’s vocals on a Third Day track. You know when you hear Jeremy Camp. They’re undeniable. But, there are a lot of copy cats out there, so some of the most popular artists in CCM are hard to pick out from the army of clones they inspire—such as Chris Tomlin. Rhett Walker has vocals that, at present, are truly distinct within the CCM marketplace.
Delivery is also a big part of this project. The only flaw I can point to is the lyricism. It could have been a bit more creative. Be that as it may, the lyrics are delivered when coupled with the band’s playing and Walker’s passionate singing. Simple lyrics are somehow enhanced when placed in the right hands.
Truth be told, I’d never heard of the Rhett Walker Band before their album showed up on my doorstep—one day before release I might add. Given the amount of music we’re sent to review, I don’t spend a lot of time listening to which songs hit CCM radio. But, I’m glad I gave it a listen. I can’t imagine it taking much for this band to gain a lot of fans really quickly. You may have already heard the title track on the radio. I assure you, the album is even better. Hit your local Christian retailer or iTunes and grab Rhett Walker Band’s Come To The River. You won’t be disappointed. Besides, who are you going to listen to if and when Mac Powell & Co. call it a night?