Saturday, July 10, 2010

Going Public with the Jesus Freak

It is a law of nature that if a being does not adapt to the conditions around it, death is inevitable. The same can be said in the music industry.  While constant tinkering with musical styles is not a prelude to success, most successful bands embrace elements of various musical fads as necessary to remain in the forefront, and discard them when they become obsolete.  A band to tightly tied to a passing fad usually dies with the fad.  In the CCM world, the most glaring example of successful adaptation is Petra, which in its original lifespan of 1972-2005 embraced everything from rockabilly, bluegrass, pop, electronica, and even hard rock, and now in 2010, after a five year hiatus, will return to its most beloved lineup of Bob Hartman, Greg X. Volz, Louie Weaver, and John Slick and Mark Kelly as Classic Petra.
Born Again, the Latest release by The Newsboys, is notice that they have no intention of passing away any time soon.  It is a 12 song transformation.
  1. Born Again
  2. One Shot
  3. Way Beyond Myself
  4. Impossible
  5. When The Boys Light Up
  6. Build Us Back
  7. Escape
  8. Miracles
  9. Running to You
  10. On Your Knees
  11. Mighty to Save
  12. Jesus Freak
The first studio release since the ascension of former DC Talk frontman Michael Tait to lead vocalist, most astute listeners will say that the Newsboys now sound like Tait or DC Talk. IMHO this is not a bad thing.  The DC Talk vibe most clearly exists on the title track and When the Boys Light Up.  Classic Newsboys songs are Miracles and the two worship cuts Build us Back and Running to You.  They even veer into the techno/dance arena with Way beyond Myself.  Far from a disjointed mess, the various styles are expertly blended into a new and improved Newsboys.
The album closes with two cover songs.  A rock version of Hillsong's Mighty to Save is sure to get your blood pumping and (don't tell me you're surprised), a new version of Jesus Freak, with KJ-52 stepping into the Toby Mac role.  I think it holds up well to the original. In the final rating, I give Born Again 4.5 Emeralds (Out of a possible 5)