Prime Cuts: Thorns, Thirsty World, Jesus Saved Me (When I Could Not Save Myself)
If there's one thing to say about Doug Anderson's latest StowTown Records "The Only One," it's that it's a wholistic record. It's one of those records that doesn't deal with theology in abstract. Rather, these newly recorded 11 songs take the truths of God and engage them in the daily happenstances of life. Be it waxing nostalgia about one's Godly heritage ("Little White Church House") or trying to enjoy each moments as God's gift to us ("Don't Miss the Sunset") or reflecting upon God's purposes in sufferings ("Thorns"), these are songs as relevant as today's google news. Often unfolding God's will in the ordinary garb of everyday narratives, this album presents God with dirt under his nails. So, if you are looking for an album that speaks God's purposes into our daily lives, you can call of the search now. "The Only One" is it.
Since 2002, Anderson had been a part of Ernie Haase and Signature Sound. Singing baritone for the Dove Award winning team until 2015, Anderson decided to pursue his own solo career. "The Only One" is the much anticipated follow-up to "Drive." While "Drive" had a decidedly more pop country thrust, this new record canvases a larger musical terrain. The title cut "The Only One" wouldn't be out of place on "Drive." It's a tailor-made radio darling that has a shiny hook with some enthusiastic sounding banjos to boot. An ode of love to Jesus, this is one of many songs that make you want to sing and worship along. "Little White Church House," a song that reflects upon the protagonist's Godly upbringing, sounds like one of those 90s-sounding narrative country songs Shenandoah or Rascal Flatts would love to covet.
Irresistible are those jazzy piano tingles on the ultra-catchy "Remember That He Loves You." "Jesus Saved Me (When I Could Not Save Myself)," a brand new co-composition from Reba Rambo-McGuire, Dony McGuire and Chip Davis, is a choir-assisted Gospel piece that revels in the grace of our Lord Jesus. Of the album's ballads, Jason Blaine and Steve Bogard's "Thirsty World" is a standout. Delivering one of his best performances caught on disc, Anderson allows his voice to glide across the song's hills and valleys with beauty. Songs on making sense out of our sufferings are aplenty these days. But "Thorns" really pricks the heart with Anderson's sensitive nuances and the song's poetically thoughtful words.
Yet, not all the songs here are perfect. "Tell Me That's Not God," "Enough Love to God Around," and "Only Room for Love" are more or less standard fare nondescript pop-country offerings that we have come to expect of Anderson. They are by no means ropey, just expected. Nevertheless, the pride of "The Only One" is that it's a practically rich record. One listen to this album and you can't help but feel like these stories are about you...