After a two-album history, it was announced in 2005 that the pop/rock quartet Ten Shekel Shirt would be no more. Lamont Heibert, feeling called to further pursue his newly founded charity Love146 (which benefits trafficked and sexually abused children globally), disbanded the group. Indeed, it seemed certain the band was gone for good. However, after many experiences in running the organization, sets of new songs penned by Heibert arose, leading to his decision to return to music once again. With an all new backing band and label, the result is a concept album of sorts called Jubilee. While now it really is solely Heibert's project and no longer a group effort, the Ten Shekel Shirt name is retained for this record for the sake of recognition.
Ten Shekel Shirt's previous efforts have had traces of worship strewn throughout, so previous listeners hoping for a return to this style may be a tad disappointed. The concept attached to this album is freedom from bondage, hence the title Jubilee, and all the lyrics here are central to this theme. While maybe a bit too literal at times, the ideas and lyrics presented are mature and thought-provoking. As far as the music goes, it is a mixed bag of Brit-pop. From the first listen of the opening title track, the energy starts up right away, continuing on with other lively tracks "Spark" and "Higher Ground"; these prove to be the album highlights. While a few slower songs like "Surprised" and "Fragile" are thrown in for good measure, the album seems to lose steam three quarters of the way through. Up until that mark everything sounds great, but the last few songs seem like mere filler (it also doesn't help that the irritating la's and da's in "Wartime Lullaby" will get stuck in your head extremely easily). The closing track "It's Slavery" is by far the most brutally honest track on the album, but it gets ruined by odd robot-like female vocals in the chorus. It may have been used for dramatic effect, but it doesn't seem to work very well, and may even be a bit pretentious.
This is certainly not a bad effort; in many ways it is a very well produced piece of work. But I cannot call this album amazing, either. It will be interesting to see where TSS will go from here. Unless you are a die-hard fanatic of the band, buying tracks individually from a digital outlet like iTunes may be the best option.- Review date: 12/16/08, written by Roger Gelwicks of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Rounder Records
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