Ever since the discovery of MercyMe and their song "I Can Only Imagine" all those years ago, the sextet have become a band at the forefront of CCM. MercyMe is the band that's accomplished what every band sometimes only dreams of: millions of records sold and instant radio recognition. And sixteen years since their start, MercyMe is still at it, releasing records and touring relentlessly. With that aside, the sextet's sixth record as a signed band, The Generous Mr. Lovewell, offers exactly what's expected of them, which may or may not be a good thing.
Majoring on the adult contemporary side of things, MercyMe has never really been a band to break too many boundaries musically. However, The Generous Mr. Lovewell does a good job of starting out in ear-catching fashion. "This Life" makes use of synths and a catchy guitar riff, while "Move" is an upbeat rocker complete with an infectious handclap beat. The title track, while a little trite, has probably the most applicable message of the album. Telling the story of a fictitious Mr. Lovewell, a man with a servant's heart who treats everyone with respect and hospitality, it's an example any believer wants to follow ("Hey Mr. Lovewell, doing today what you do every day, no matter how small believing that it's all the same/come on Mr. Lovewell oh we could use a few more just like you, who care enough to give this life away.") The bass-driven "Crazy Enough" is probably the most distinctive on the album, almost having a Derek Webb-esque tinge attached.
From here on out, The Generous Mr. Lovewell seems to go on "autopilot mode." It would be too far to suggest that MercyMe fails in their execution of the rest of the album, but the experimentation as a whole continues at a minimum. The first half of the record is unique enough, but the second half does fail to follow up on the sound. "All Of Creation" sounds precisely like the successful singles that have made MercyMe famous, and while it's not a bad song by any means, there's nothing new that's offered that hasn't been heard before from the band. "Beautiful" and "Free" lack anything to be held onto musically, and they do tend to drag on for too long and therefore bore the listener. "Only You Remain" and "Won't You Be My Love" follow the same suit, but as the epic tracks on the album they work well.
Six albums after "I Can Only Imagine," MercyMe is still on top of their game. The sextet is indeed a talented group of guys and they do avoid getting stuck in their own rut for the most part; however, The Generous Mr. Lovewell is undeniably a pretty forgettable record, and while there are a few gems to be found, it's only going to appeal to the already-existent fanbase MercyMe has garnered after all these years. MercyMe still has great things to say and their musical progression has been adequate enough, but it's hard to see their sixth record as anything extraordinary and more desirable than their previous material. Dedicated MercyMe followers and fans of CCM hit radio in general have more reason to rejoice with The Generous Mr. Lovewell, but anyone else wouldn't be too hard pressed to pass this one up.- Review date: 5/1/10, written by Roger Gelwicks of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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