It's no surprise that there is a bit of an overlap between modern country music and what constitutes Christian contemporary music these days. Both genres are parked squarely in Nashville, Tennessee, as far as headquarters go, and share producers, studios, performance venues and fan bases as well. With both genres often pulling from the same region of the country for both artists and fan bases, the overlap of the two musical forms goes back to the beginning of each type of music. Legendary southerner Elvis Presley himself pulled from the blues early on and was pivotal in the formation of rock and roll. But he also released a number of highly regarded gospel albums in his time to add to his collection of genres.
Michael Cochren has the sort of barrelhouse, full gale voice (reminiscent of Needtobreathe's Bear Rinehart) and just a hint of a southern accent that evokes a number of different genres for the songs he sings. And this winning combination of performance and wide-open songwriting suggests the kind of crossover artist that would appeal to a big audience. Following in the path of other "southern appeal" artists (the aforementioned Needtobreathe, Zach Williams and Anne Wilson), Cochren & Co.'s second album, Running Home, is the sort of tuneful album that will likely make all sorts of fans sing along.
And speaking of legendary artists, there is a bit of Bruce Springsteen's classic "Born To Run" in Running Home's first single of the same name. With an orchestral music swell in the beginning of the song, and a galloping tempo, the epic radio single is a great one for the open road and a great choice to lead off the album. With a lung-busting vocal delivery, Michael Cochren testifies of the love he's found in the Lord: "No more running in circles, trying to be good enough / I'm far from perfect / But I found perfect love In the arms that won't let go / Got a heart on fire, got a wind at my back / Singing hallelujah, I am free at last / Every day I'm running home / He called my name / And he stole my shame / Everything changed when I came running home / Out of the dark, into His arms / No more running away, I'm running home." And with an epic, 80's style electric guitar movement and forceful backup singers, the track is a tour-de-force for writing an anthemic song that begs to be turned up whenever it comes on the speakers.
Slinky, smooth "The Lows," with a great sliding bass and guitar riff intertwined in the intro, is a funky song about the highs and lows of faith (and life in general) that has the odd-yet-wonderful feel of a 90's boy band song sung by a county music crooner like Chris Stapleton. This sort of "blowtorch" approach to genres actually serves the band well, and darned if they don't pull it off time and again. "Thank God For Sunday Morning" comes as close to a modern country music song as the album features, while the well-meaning, but cornball "Good Times" veers too close to a parody of a country party song, with the requisite list of things to look forward to at the singer's place. And of course, these things (sunshine, good friends and good memories) are, in the hokey country music tradition, "all you need." But you can't make a genre-jumping omelet without cracking a few eggs.
Running Home ends well with the worshipful "Final Say" with Josh Baldwin (of "Stand In Your Love" fame) and the rocking finale "Future Glory," which ends the album on a similar, bookending note to the opening title track.
Cochren & Co. show themselves to be true, diverse music fans, and their second album is a bit of a love letter to the many different genres represented here. And what is lost in album cohesiveness is more than made up for in heart, energy and a love for Jesus that spills all over every track here.- Review date: 2/27/23, written by Alex Caldwell of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Gotee Records
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