With the exception of a short list of people, I can safely say no one was looking forward to the next Dustin Kensrue record more than yours truly. My wife and I had our first dance to “Pistol.” And so with groans, I type this review.
This is not “Please Come Home” or “This Good Night is Still Everywhere.” It’s not a solo record, but a praise and worship record. As such, it has some strengths and the expected weaknesses with the genre.
To get the negative out of the way, some songs are simply sing-songy and borderline cheesy. See the chorus to “God is Good” for an example. I was a latter-album Thrice fan, greatly for the depth and poetic nature of Dustin’s faith coming through in a pleasantly subtle way. Dustin’s first solo record and his Christmas songs are breaths of fresh air in their fields. Such offerings were a perfect example of what Billy Corgan was talking about when he said God is the future of rock and roll. Offering another use of the cliche “God is good all the time and all the time God is good” is not exactly breaking down the walls.
It should be noted, however, that while some of the lyrics may be simple in structure, they are theologically sound. If nothing else, this record stands out in its genre for that reason alone. “The Voice of the Lord” communicates the holiness of God about as well as any six-strung ballad. Jesus is not sung as our buddy or homeboy, but a conquering savior to lowly sinners in need of unmerited grace. “O God” is the exception; if it wasn’t for the biblical references in some verses this song could be easily transformed into a love song by inserting a woman’s name in the right spots.
For Christian radio, this record would be a nice does of increased musical quality. “Grace Alone” is a track I could see driving to with open windows, its almost 1980’s guitar hook soaking into the seats of my automobile. The cover of “Rock of Ages” is booming, another testament to the longevity of the hymnal to which I cling so near. I’m not a huge fan of the first single, “It’s Not Enough,” but Thrice fans will certainly recognize that familiar howl in Dustin’s voice.
My greatest concern lies with the musical style and the way in which it will be used in the church. I don’t see this record helping to alleviate the “concert-vibe” put forth in many churches today. Played as a straight cover, there will be very few congregations able to hear the corporate voice of the congregation as a result of the guitar tracking. While there are certainly specific calls in Scripture for instruments to be played loudly, the voices of the saints are the true instruments of the church.
As a final verdict, this is an above-average praise album. For an Dustin Kensrue effort, however, it is not my favorite.
You can stream the album here. Image taken from the sourced link.