Prime Cuts: Here He Comes, I Love You (From an Old Rugged Cross), Just When You Thought
Overall Score: 4/5
The success or the failure of a concept album all gravitates around the concept. Sometimes the major theme that gives definition to the whole project can be far too light-hearted or far too novel, making the album sound frivolous and unimportant. But not when its sine qua nom is the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Joseph Habedank's latest Daywind Records release not only centers around this glorious theme, but he also gives careful exposition to the events, implications, and theology leading up to the Resurrection through these 10 newly composed songs.
Habedank is a multiple award-winning and Dove Award nominated singer and songwriter. Over the last ten years, he has served first as a baritone, then as the lead singer for one of Southern Gospel's favorite family groups, the Perrys, and shared his songs in some of America's greatest churches, including the Brooklyn Tabernacle and Charles Stanley's First Baptist Atlanta. As a musical scribe, Habedank has recently co-penned the title cut of Reba McEntire's recent #1 record "Sing It Now." He has helped write two nationally charted #1 songs and in 2010, "If You Knew Him" (written with Rodney Griffin) was nominated for Southern Gospel Song of the Year at the GMA Dove Awards and won the Singing News Fan Award for Song of the Year.
Bearing all the marks of producer Wayne Haun's majestic touches, the album opens cinematically with "Here He Comes." Sounding like it was written for an epic movie, "Here He Comes" trumps on being bombastic which is so appropriate to the theme of how the coming of Jesus changes our understanding of history. After such a grandiose opening, "Jailbreak" with its sprightly guitar and swampy-bluesy production seems a little schizophrenic to sequence it in as the album's second song. Given Wayne Haun's expertise with string arrangements, the album's big string-laden ballads "Just When You Thought" and "I Love You (From an Old Rugged Cross)" are given the Midas' touch. The latter, in particular, with it graphic and vivid display of Christ's love from the cross deserves to be on constant repeats.
Habedank does a Ronnie Milsap with "I Believe in the Resurrection." Here he waxes some piano-based Motown with old fashioned Gospel giving us a convincing read of this credo-styled anthem. "Devil Can't Dance" continues on the upbeat side where Habedank tries to warn us about the devil's schemes. However, one would wish Haun would ease a little om the percussion; perhaps a simpler (and more country) backing would have been less distracting. The same can be said about "Dead Things." The track suffers too much by its drowning electric guitar riffs. "Say the Name" is much more redemptive. Vocally, Habedank aces the song with his measured and thoughtful nuances bringing in an added realism and beauty to this well-written ballad.
With songs that exalts the heart of the Gospel, "Resurrection" is an important record. Though the album could have benefited from a lighter touch, many of the songs (particularly the ballads) deserve well circulation.