Prime Cuts: The Other Side, Broken Man, Mystery
"Jesus ain't worried 'bout tattoos and cigarettes/Or if you wear a golden cross around your neck." Lines like these from Rhett Walker Band's brand new album "Here's to the Ones" are going to throw a monkey wrench for many. It's definitely going to raise consternations among conservatives. But Jesus never came for the cautious or the reserved. Rather, Jesus himself was so radical and unconventional in his entire demeanor, actions and teachings that later even cost him his own life. In many ways, this new album reflects such Christ-like radicalness. Bristling with a raw diary-like honesty these songs speak of Christ in ways that are going to cause unrest for the complacent and rest for the perturbed. And to add further grit, these guys have adopted a folk-country-Southern rock sound that have led critics to compare them to Third Day or NEEDTOBREATHE or even Eric Church and Charlie Daniels.
Rhett Walker Band comprises of Rhett Walker on vocals, Kenny Davis on drums, Joe Kane on guitar and Kevin Whitsett on Bass. The band first burst onto the scene in 2012 with their debut album for Essential Records, "Come to the River." The disc garnered for the quartet a Grammy nominated song, "When Mercy Found Me," which has charted on a multitude of Christian music charts. Now, they are back with their much anticipated sophomore release "Here's to the Ones." The record begins with the spoken word intro of "Clone," an indigenous update of Steve Taylor's 1984 "I Want to be a Clone." Riddled with lots of soul-searching quips, "Clone" is particularly acerbic in its critique of couch potato Christians: "You call yourself an outlaw, but never fight for anything/You sit and wait for them dollar signs selling what we do not need."
In a time where morality and integrity have been swept into the ditch, the title cut "Here's to the Ones" is a breath of fresh air. Couched in the guise of a country rocker a la Eric Church and Jamey Johnson, "Here's to the Ones" celebrates hope, honor and family in such palatable ways that we can't help but feel a familiar warmth kindling in our souls. The tempo slows down to a slow country afternoon pace with "The Mystery;" a song littered with some gorgeous banjo licks that speaks of allowing Christ to be bigger than our own petty conceptions. Though the jazzy piano and the bluesy Hammond organ of "The Other Side" may remind us of one of those old Hank Williams cry-in-your-beer country songs, but it's a cry-in-you-beer song with a difference. Instead of wallowing in the drowning woes of alcohol, here the band encourages us to look to the unsurpassing worth of Jesus.
While many contemporary Christian songs are reticent in addressing how sin traumatizes our existences, "Broken Man," "Adam's Son" and "Dead Man" take with seriousness what the Apostle Paul spent the first seven chapters of Romans expounding. "Broken Man" is the favorite among this triumvirate of songs. With a country-pop melody that Blake Shelton would covet, "Broken Man" sounds like it could be a crossover country hit too for the foursome. A song that speaks of the progress of sanctification in Walker's life and marriage. "Here's to the Ones," in short, is not a slick and sheen affair. Rather, with brute honesty grounded in a call towards holiness, this record needs to be in the player of all who are serious about sanctification.