ForeFront Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: Michael Ehret
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/14/1999
Geoff Moore has been recording in the Christian marketplace for 12 years but this is his first solo effort - and what a great effort!
Moore recently disbanded his longtime band, The Distance, to record this solo album - and while it is a step forward from his band albums, sonically a huge debt is owed The Distance. There is nothing on this disc that makes it sound any different from your average Geoff Moore And The Distance album.
Oh, the writing is a little more intimate perhaps and the up tempo songs a tad less energetic maybe - but there is nothing here that will surprise Moore fans. No dramatic style changes. It's a natural progression from the last Distance album, Threads, which was a much more intimate affair than, say, Home Run or Evolution. However, Geoff Moore contains the same solid musicianship and writing that has marked Moore's work for at least the last 5-6 years.
Moore, who has received four straight Grammy nominations for Best Rock Gospel Album, opens the disc with a song of obedience to God's call "Out Here." It's one of those songs The Distance might have put a rockier spin on, but Moore's voice is pleasingly in the forefront of the song as he proclaims "The spirit is calling me, whispering/Out here/In the wild and the wonder/Where the lightning and the thunder/Serve a great awakening/Out here." There is assurance in the song that, yes, Moore has listened to the mind of God in making the change to a solo career.
Moore has, over the years, developed a friendship with industry big gun Steven Curtis Chapman. In fact, the two are touring together in support of their new albums this fall. There have been many musical highlights of their friendship, including Chapman's #1 songs "Speechless" and "The Great Adventure" and Moores' #1 "A Friend Like You."
They team up again on this album for three songs - and mostly succeed. However, the album's low point is the duet with Chapman "Thanks to You." It's trite, and precious, and just too darned calculated to work. It reminds me of a similar song Chapman wrote and recorded with Twila Paris, "Faithful Friend," for her album Where I Stand.
There's a fine line between writing about friendship and writing about a friendship. Songs have to be universal. The listener needs to be able to put himself or herself into the song and fit. It doesn't happen with either of these songs. However, the two other songs penned with Chapman, "Through It" and "Belong" are among the highlights of the album.
Speaking of a universal song, Moore takes one of Rich Mullins' more autobiographical songs, "Boy Like Me, Man Like You," and makes it as much his song as it is Mullins'. In the song Mullins compares his life to Jesus' and wonders about just how human Christ was:
"Did You grow up hungry?/Did You grow up fast?/Did the little girls giggle when You walked past?/Did You wonder what it was that made them laugh?/Did You wrestle with a dog?/Did he lick Your nose?/Did You play beneath the spray of a water hose?"
It's a beautiful song about the reality of Christ's humanity that doesn't debase His divinity.
One special moment on Geoff Moore that needs to be acknowledged is the song "With You," written for Moore's wife Jan. When you think about the tripe that passes for a love song these days, the real sentiment and emotion of this song shine through.
"The way you say my name/The sound that your voice makes/The funny way you turn a phrase/Sounds like love to me/When you speak/It's like you know just what my heart needs/Your words they bring healing to me/And help me to remember what is true."
But, it's not just the mushy side of love Moore touches on in this song. He opens a window into his life by pointing out his wife's role in keeping him humble as well - another important facet of any healthy love relationship.
"You have seen me at my best/And wrapped up in my arrogance/You remain unimpressed/And it looks like love to me/And you see/Not what I am but what I can be/The way you look at life is inspiring/And it helps me remember what is true."
Moore is a songwriter of amazing depth. What he can do with a well-written phrase is impressive. Here's some examples:
· "Thomas Jefferson Washington is only eight years old/He lives with his mother in an abandoned car they call home. From the Windy City skyline it's easy to look down/On the Miracle Mile that might as well be a million miles/From Tommy's side of town."
· "This life I'm living/I'm so quick to call it mine/These days, these hours/The moments we call time."
· "I think about the years I spent just passing through/I'd like to have them back again/And give them all to You/But You just smile and take my hand."
If Geoff Moore is an indication of the direction Moore is taking, and it certainly seems like it is, we're going to miss The Distance - but not a whole lot.