The Blood

Kevin Max

Infinity Music, 2007

http://www.kevinmaxmusic.com/

REVIEW BY: Michael Ehret

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/23/2008

Kevin Max has always been the “interesting” one when it comes to his life as part of dcTalk -- you know, the way Paul McCartney was the “cute” one with the Beatles?

For that reason alone, I’ve always looked forward to his music projects; I find it exciting not knowing what to expect. But, honestly, all of his solo projects have been decidedly mixed bags. The Blood, his third full-length, non-Christmas project, continues that trend.

Max has said this disc is “not a classic hymns project,” and that is certainly true. Neither is it, he said, “a white/homogenized version of black gospel or soul music.” This also is true. But what my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 is it?

He’s called the disc a “sensitive and stylized adaptation of the music that was at the root of rock and roll, blues, and popular culture.” Really?

The album opens with a blessedly short, fairly standard interpretation of “The Old Rugged Cross” that segues into yet another dcTalk reunion -- a remake of “The Cross” from Prince’s 1987 album Sign O’ The Times. It is just exactly what you’d expect from dcTalk if they were still together (where is Michael Tait these days, anyway? TobyMac is everywhere, but Tait hasn’t released a disc since 2003.)

Much more interesting is the first single from the album, “Run On For A Long Time,” which features a duet with 2007 American Idol Top 10 finalist Chris Sligh. Sligh and Max (SlighMax -- doesn’t that sound like a great group name?) find some energy by collaborating on this cautionary tale about evangelizing sinners.

But that energy is unfortunately short-lived. Max returns with an interpretation of “Trouble Of The World” that sounds like it was ripped right out of the Jonny Lang songbook -- only without Lang’s guitar playing.

And it goes on like this, with Max dancing close to originality and creativity only to back off and retreat to tired musical clichés. Along the way Amy Grant (?!) and Vince Gill join in for a spirited version of “Up Above My Head I Hear Music In The Air” that is fine, fine, fine. But then he retreats to familiar “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” territory with a version of Stevie Wonder’s “They Won’t Go When I Go” from Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1974) that swoops and soars where it should retreat and cower. Max should have asked Sligh what the American Idol judges always say about covering Stevie -- “don’t do it, dawg.”

I long for Max to show us who he is. I refuse to believe he hit his creative peak with Stereotype B, his first solo disc. As good as that disc was, it was inconsistent, too. He can do better -- but will he?

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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