What is a "ragamuffin?" Well, according to Google, it's a science-fiction novel, a domesticated breed of cat, or a dirty shabbily clothed child. This word reached a certain level of popularity after the Brennan Manning book "Ragamuffin Gospel" about God's ever-reaching grace to our dirty sin filled world. As a matter of fact, Manning might have incited a movement declaring that with grace there's nothing we can do to deserve it or earn it. Newcomer Carlos Whittaker has decided to follow in this grace movement as he presents his debut offering, Ragamuffin Soul (If you're still wondering which definition of "ragamuffin" this album is referring to; you can count out the sci-fi book and the kitty cat).
The album starts with "Rain It Down" petitioning God to rain down His love on His people. While the song is not the strongest opener musically, lyrically it's almost a throwback to the Psalms as Carlos sings, "With desert hearts looking to the heavens, desperate for your holy fountain, our eyes will turn to the skies." This is followed by "Can't Start This Fight," which is reminiscent of a 90's pop song with a rhythmic flow but a melody that doesn't really go anywhere dynamically. "We Will Worship You" is the first seemingly slow song on Ragamuffin but surprises the listener with a well executed chorus that really cries out for God to save the world.
"Because of You" has a very contemporary worship sound similar to that of Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman, well-orchestrated but not something very different than what's already out there. "Grace Already Won" sounds like it was designed to be an anthem as the chorus says, "Grace already won, grace has covered us, grace runs deep, it's never ending." While the message is strong the anthem aspect isn't. The chorus seems to be so wordy that it makes the song stiff. The album concludes with "We Will Dance" and appropriately the song is driven with an electronic drum beat. While not an actual dance song, it does sing of celebrating the creator of the Universe with all that we are.
Ragamuffin Soul is a hit and miss album. Some will like it while others will not. Carlos does seem to have a slight lisp which can be distracting at points but at other times it sounds completely absent from his speech. The music, melody, and lyrics all are decent but nothing progressive. Worship leaders might be able to find a pinch of something different in his music, however it might not be the kind of "different" that they are looking for. Nevertheless, I don't believe we've really scratched the surface of Carlos Whittaker and I look forward to seeing what is deeper inside of his ragamuffin soul.- Review date: 4/27/10, written by Ryan Barbee of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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