Rhett Walker and his band mates made an impressive debut two years ago with Come To The River, and Here's To The Ones continues their high-test, southern rock stampede. Walker possesses an impressive set of pipes, and his soulful bellow fills up a rock song like few other voices in Christian Music.
"Clone" opens up the action with a spoken word intro over a stomping bit of southern rock music (complete with a rhythmic chain and stomp box accompaniment), and a bit of pointed-yet-rambling monologue about hypocritical believers before raucous guitars enter the scene. "Clone" is a clever thematic update to Steve Taylor's 1984 classic "I Want To Be A Clone," and proves that some subjects will never really be outdated. It's also a gutsy song to start an album off with in today's CCM climate, and Walker and his band show their mettle in making such a bold statement right off the bat.
"Here's To The Ones" flips the script a bit and, in John Mellencamp style, celebrates the blue collar, small town folks that Walker grew up with, and still holds dear. This tune is reminiscent of songs that Big Tent Revival used to write 20 years ago, and though it's a popular subject in country music, it doesn't get much airtime in Christian music. "Adam's Son" is another driving, throbbing southern rocker in the vein of Three Doors Down, and "Dead Man" bears a spooky intro that does the song title justice. "Amazed" soars as a song of remembrance about God's amazing grace and not running so fast that we forget to truly live.
In "Someone Else's Song" and "Broken Man," Walker shows a bit of maturity in taking a hard look at his own life and marriage and seeing how his humanness and fallen nature cause heartache, but in the end he thanks God that He still uses him, a broken man. This humility is hard won and shows the scars of time, and in "Lift Me Up"--the first bonus track of the Deluxe Edition--Walker says a prayer to end the album that the Lord would "lift me up from this muddy water" over a nice mandolin accompaniment. "Welcome Home" bookends this theme with a celebratory song about Heaven.
Here's To The Ones is a rare treat in that both the music and the message sound equally authentic, and shows that Walker, in all his grittiness and imperfections, still has his focus in the right place.- Review date: 10/12/14, written by Alex Caldwell of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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