It's been two years since the band's most recent effort, their third record Wake Up Screaming. The album showed growth for the band, but there was still a great deal of room left for improvement. So with a new producer who has worked with Green Day and Elvis Costello, the band sets sail with their brand new appropriately self-titled record.
In the band's bio, the foursome talk hihgly of producer Neill King who helped breathe life into the album Slick Shoes. King wasn't the producer who began with the band on this record. The results from his work with them left Slick Shoes unsatisfied. "It wasn't about recording fast or slow, it was about what's comfortable," stated Joe Nixon. Nixon went on to explain that Neill was a better match once his schedule was free and he could work with the guys. When listening to the album, this is obvious.
Slick Shoes opens with "My Ignorance," an honest contemplative fast-paced punk rock tune. It's evident right away that lead vocalist Ryan Kepke's vocals have matured incredibly and are more confident than ever before. "Pass Me By" my seem lyrically like a Christmas song with lines like "I'll just fall asleep and dream of Christmas time," but reading deeper into Kepke's thoughts, you'll find he's speaking of passing time and each day being like a gift. "Friday Night" is a fun and catchy pop/punk song that serves as a throwback to high school years and the freedom and fun of Friday night.
The gem on the record, however, is "Alone," a pop/punk rocker about being apart from a loved one and missing them. "No matter what road your walk down on your own, I'll be there. You won't always have to be... Alone tonight, It's alright... I can feel you with me in my heart. The sweet surprise and golden touch on the track is the inclusion of strings to support the rhythm and Kepke's cries. "I Knew" is another love song that continues in the same vain as the previous tracks and proves itself as another album highlight. There may appear to be a lot of the same feel to the tracks from song to song, but it helps hold the record together and isn't so similar that you're bored to tears by the final track. The fast-paced "151" closes out the record, a worshipful tune the band uses to remind themselves and the listener where they stand and of God's faithfulness, "When I feel I'm in need, I see Your truth... I feel it beat inside my soul... Your Word remains when I'm dead."
Slick Shoes have redefined themselves on their self-titled album. For fans, it'll just be the polishing they've been looking for, and for those who just didn't think Slick Shoes had much to offer before, will stand corrected after listening to Slick Shoes.- Review date: 4/13/02, written by John DiBiase
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