|Musical Style: Acoustic Hard Rock||Produced By: Ted Leonard|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2007||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 14||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 64:51|
Ted Leonard is best known as the lead vocalist of Enchant, a Bay Area progressive rock outfit with seven full length albums and one live DVD/CD to its credit. Ted, who has also contributed lead vocals to projects from Xen (84,000 Darma Doors) and Thought Chamber (Angular Perceptions), always inspired to create an album reflective of his faith and convictions. And Way Home, his first solo release from 2007, proves the perfect vehicle for Ted to express himself- and not just lyrically but from a musical standpoint as well.
What we have in Way Home is a joining of acoustic rock and hard rock with the occasional progressive overtone. Much of the material here is mid-paced while making us of the acoustic guitar; that said, the album never turns into a trite listen, which is testament to Ted’s ingenious ability to compose a song with a subtle but catchy melody. This is best found on “Way Home”, “Submerged”, “Once A Week”, “Who Do You Say He Is” and “The Name Of God”, all choice tracks standing out with their notable chorus hooks. Other worthwhile pieces include blues rockers “Take This Cup” and “Resolve” and the acoustic based sounds of “See No Evil” and “Hold The Wind”. A more hard rocking direction is taken on “Not Me” and “Broken Tools” while “Thank You” proves a fitting ballad.
Vocally, Ted brings a melodic based style that can best be described as equal parts smooth and refined, equal parts classic rock and equally parts emotionally driven. Ted also handles all rhythm, lead and bass guitar duties. His lead work, satisfyingly, is steeped in the blues, best standing out on “Hold The Wind”, “Resolve”, “Who Do You Say He Is?” and “See No Evil”. Nick D’Virgilio (Spock’s Beard) and Ed Flanegan (Enchant) capably round out the rhythm section on drums.
Production values are transparent in allowing all the instrumentation to rise above the mix.
The only complaint I have about the project is the album artwork, consisting of a lime green font and logo over a black and white photo of the artist- not exactly the most flattering color combination. You would think the lead vocalist of a progressive rock band would come up with something a bit more creative.
The album opens strongly to its stylish title track. “Way Home” slowly moves forward from the start in acoustic laced fashion, not culminating until obtaining a sweeping chorus in which a crisp rhythm guitar makes its presence felt. Pride is the subject matter here:
It’s hard to judge and be penitent
It’s hard to throw stones from your knees
It’s hard to show any kind of light from the
Shadows of my own misdeeds
And when one finger is pointing out,
Three are pointing back
Showing what I lack
“Submerged” proves an airy piece with its lightly flowing ambience and passionate melding of the acoustic and electric. A powerfully delivered chorus – that finds Ted exhibiting the full range to his voice – and a pull no punches lyrical direction puts things over the top:
Back and forth up and down I feel my way around
Finding everything but You
My view of You has grown soft
Got grace but something’s lost
It’s probably the Truth
I’m candy coated salt and I’m a dimming light
My fuzzy logic is skewed confusing wrong with right
“Once A Week” gives rise to a laid back and relaxed feel. This one allows the artist to put his melodic based songwriting skills on full display, allowing for just the right amount of gripping catchiness without overwhelming the listener with any commercial overtones. A distinct bass line serves as the glue that holds everything together.
The ballad “Thank You” moves in an acoustic based worship direction. A sense of purpose is exuded throughout the song, reflected in its occasional traces of rhythm guitar – standing in support of a reflective chorus – and heartfelt lyrical direction:
I want to thank You for the mercy
That You give
I want to thank You with the very way I live
A gift that is new with every day
A debt that I don’t have to repay
With all of my strength I want to say
Oh Lord, I thank You
“Hold The Wind” gives rise to a stately mid-tempo impetus. The song slowly flows ahead during its verse portions, not breaking out until achieving a spirited chorus in which an astute environs is put into place. All the while a bluesy lead guitar decorates the backdrop.
“Just For Me” can best be described as a Christian love song. This one represents the albums slowest and most tepid piece, establishing a heartfelt setting with its near leisurely ambience. I tend to pass – “Just For Me” is my least favorite track of the album – though I can see others getting into it. There is simply not enough here for me musically. Lyrically, again, this is a Christian love song:
That He’s made His love so easy to see
Cause no matter what I’ve done
God made you just for me
Your eyes draw me in and your laugh sets me free
And you’re more and more beautiful to me
“Who Do You Say He Is?” is another mid-paced piece straying towards bluesy territory. What I find most pleasing about the song is the distant but complementary touch of keyboards highlighting its backdrop. As “Who Do You Say He Is” reaches its decisive chorus, however, a gritty rhythm guitar moves to the forefront of the mix. More edgy lead guitar is added to a number presenting a challenge to its listeners:
I say He holds the key but who do you say He is
I say He set me free but who do you say He is
I say the law, the word, that He fulfilled it all
And that the law was put there not just to remind us that we fall
But that we absolutely need a Saviour but
Who do you say He is
“Not Me” is an atmospheric piece with a touch of the aggressive. The song slowly and gradually drifts through its first verse, building momentum for its sweeping chorus until breaking out in hard rocking fashion as a driving rhythm guitar steps forward. “Not Me” is a song of God’s faithfulness:
But I know Your love won’t fail
Even when I catch my tail
There’s no value/wisdom in the things I chase
There’s not medal for winning this race
Flight of fancy floating aimlessly
Who am I trying to be
Not me, no not me
“Broken Tools” maintains the hard rocking initiative. A blend of acoustic guitar and feedback opens the song, the two leading the way until things explode for a driving chorus dealing with strength in our time of weakness:
Don’t believe you’re of no use
God works best with broken tools
You’re the strength in my weakness
Your grace I humbly receive
Time to put my deeds where my faith is
Time to live as I believe
A crisp rhythm guitar makes its presence felt here as does a quietly played guitar solo.
“See No Evil”, a predominantly acoustic based track, might not provide many of the albums heavier moments but is still very good. The song slowly drifts over its first two minutes with occasional touches of lead guitar adorning the backdrop, smoothly decelerating to a near crawl for an airy chorus that almost comes across ethereal in feel. Once more, not the heaviest but solid nonetheless. Quite the compelling melody as well.
“Take This Cup” picks up the pace with its blues rock flavorings. The song scratches its way ahead from the get go, gradually crawling through its verse portions on the way to a catchy chorus shored up by a flattering hint of organ. Several stretches of bluesy lead guitar shore up what can best be described as a faith based track:
Lord, I’m so confused
You’ve got me guessing
That maybe I’m outside Your will
And Your blessing
Is this some kind of test
Or is this all divine
The blues based tendencies continue with “Resolve”. A punchy bass line plays a prominent role as the song slowly meanders ahead, an edgy rhythm guitar kicking in as a weighty chorus of a near forceful variety is obtained. Similar to “Take This Cup”, plenty of blues based lead guitar shores this one up.
“The Name Of God”, which also eventually made its way onto the CPR Volume 3 compilation, might be a laid back piece musically – similar to much of the material here it is sustained by a tasteful joining of the acoustic and electric – but pulls no punches lyrically:
If you love God but hate your brother
Then surely you will fall
Love your God and love each other
Two rules to rule them all
In the name of God show them grace
Step outside your little space
And love them till they see His face
In the name of God
Things do not get much more direct than that, huh? Meaningful message that deserves to be heard.
“Ghost Pains” ranks with the more progressive pieces on Way Home. The song begins to a flowing instrumental based opening only to calmly decelerate at the start of its first verse. Abruptly picking up in pace, “Ghost Pains” moves on to a hook filled chorus in which dealing with the past is the subject:
And I still scrub at the handprints
That you left upon my soul
And it still grasp in the dark
To find something to fill this hole
And I see you like the newly blind
Still dreams in light of day
And I feel you like an amputee feels his missing leg
Way Home is a very good acoustic hard rock album. Consistency might be the best word to describe the project in that out of 14 tracks I only hit the skip button once. Again, the artist excels at putting together material with subtle but catchy melody structures- not to mention bringing quite the compelling vocal style and just the right amount of bluesy lead guitar. All in all, Way Home comes with a strong recommendation.
Track Listing: “Way Home” (3:38), “Submerged” (4:51), “Once A Week” (5:28), “Thank You” (4:14), “Hold The Wind” (3:52), “Just For Me” (4:16), “Who Do You Say He Is?” (4:52), “Not Me” (4:38), “Broken Tools” (4:31), “See No Evil” (5:01), “Take This Cup” (4:15), “Resolve” (4:34), “In The Name Of God” (4:46),
Ted Leonard – Lead Vocals, Guitars, Bass and Keyboards
Nick D’Virgilio & Sean Flanegan – Drums
Kirt Shearer - Keyboards