TRIPLE PLAY: McKendree Augustus / David Herndon / Matthew Perryman Jones
August 22, 2008
And now for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!
My stack of c.d.s to review has grown taller than is manageable, so in a desperate attempt to knock out some reviews, and promote a few dear friends, here’s is my ‘Triple Play’ review special!
My brother-n-law – and one of my best friends – has accomplished quite a lot since he moved to Nashville a few of years back. He’s toured with Jeff Deyo, Britt Nicole, and is currently on tour with SonicFlood, and in the midst of the madness he still made time to write and record a debut cd worth being very proud of.
Honestly, I’m not exactly sure what to compare McKendree’s sound to. He’s got the ghostly electronics of Radiohead, the wide open atmosphere of Coldplay, with the pounding piano of Ben Folds, and the worshipful lyrics of John Mark McMillan, and at least a peripheral awareness of emo-guitar, all mixed into a creative, original, & refreshing debut.
By far the stand-out is “Beautiful“. The melody line is original enough to keep you guessing, but still has hook. The chorus is simple and singable. The music builds slowly, with the addition and subtraction of instruments sometimes from one line to the next. With the right people behind it, combined with a good music video, I’m convinced it could be a hit single – not only in ‘Christian’ radio, but a ‘cross-over’ hit. Yes, it’s that good.
A few other stand-outs are are the two corporate worship songs; “Attention“, & “Strength to Carry On“. Though the first verse of “Attention” is a bit hard to grasp at first, the rest of the song is the sort that a whole room of people can quickly latch onto, as is all of “Strength to Carry On“, which I’ve already led at our youth service.
There are some places that may lose the casual listener. For one, the intro song – “Proemial” – is likely going to turn away some, particularly those not already familiar with McKendree’s more accessible songs. That said, this c.d. is only a glimmer of what he is capable of (I’ve heard it ALL), and is a shimmering sign of what is to come.
“A View…” is well worth picking up, and will leave you wanting to hear more from McKendree in the future.
I would be lying if I said that I expected to be blown away from David’s 2nd c.d. David & I have been friends for a few years now – we’ve sung on worship teams together, & I’ve long been familiar with his music. Though there were a few good songs on his debut c.d., nothing there really moved me. In comes “Into Danger / Out of Rescue“, and I must confess: my jaw was wide open during the whole first listen. This was David Herndon?!
The melodies were memorable, the song-writing catching, his vocal delivery is absolutely convincing, and most of all, the lyrics CUT DEEP. I was already nearly in tears before finishing track one. “Into Danger…” is David’s “Time out of Mind” (Bob Dylan) or “Yankee Foxtrot Hotel” (Wilco) – production-wise, an alt-country masterpiece, and as far as songs are concerned, a very solid, and challenging collection that makes me proud to say “I know that guy“.
The most note-worthy song is “Church or a Brothel“, which – by title alone – brings up issues many will be uncomfortable with, and asks questions which society as a whole often shy away from. My personal favorite, however, is “Reflection” – an alt-country performance that, oddly enough, rings with subtle shades of mid-80s Tears for Fears, and the Police. It’s that sort of genre-bending creativity, and the strong production value, that makes “Into Danger…” so worthwhile.
Personally, I hope to hear David pursue this direction even further, but until then “Into Danger…” has been – and will be – a permanent fixture in my car’s c.d. collection. That’s where I keep my favorites.
As I’ve written about before in this blog, there was a time a few years back when Matthew & I used to occasionally play out together in the Athens/Atlanta area at places like Eddie’s Attic & the Bean’ry, and he’s the fellow who introduced me to Indelible Grace’s music (he appears on most – if not all – of their cds). He’s a gentle spoken man, a strong songwriter, and has an absolutely beautiful voice.
I was excited to discover earlier this week the release of his 3rd studio full-length, “Swallow the Ocean“, and though the whole c.d. has not yet grabbed me, it holds promise, and a few singles which have already probably made it into my ‘favorite new music of ’08’ list.
The first song of note, which I’ve featured on this site before, is “Save You“, which has already enjoyed some popularity as an iTunes single, after appearing in a number of popular prime-time television shows. The song is simple, and lovely, bringing to mind what Coldplay might have sounded like if Chris Martin had been raised in the southern USA. My personal favorite is “Without a Clue“, which show-cases a nice piano hook, and great lyrics that look back on the romantic naivete’ of youth. With it’s anthemic chorus, it’s hard not to note U2’s influence on Matthew’s otherwise southern acoustic folk style.
Though I’m not yet sold on the whole disc – his debut was so fantastic that it’s hard not to judge all his later releases by that standard – it definitely contains a few ‘must-download’ singles, and if my guess is right, will prove to be a worthy investment as a full-length as well.
Here’s hoping I get to gig again with Matthew in the future.
That’s all… I hope I’ve been of service to direct you towards some great new music that will move your soul.