Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Prodigal - Stand
   
Musical Style: Classic Rock Produced By: Prodigal
Record Label: Independent Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 2006 Artist Website:
Tracks: 10 Rating: 75%
Running Time: 42:21
Prodigal - Stand

Chambersburg, Pennsylvania based Prodigal describes itself as a “mixture of sounds influenced by seventies and eighties rock bands – from Led Zeppelin to Van Halen – but with a modern Christian contemporary edge”.  After giving the groups 2006 full length debut Stand several listens, however, I feel it is necessary to go into a bit more detail.  Actually, a blend of hard rock, melodic rock and AOR might be the better portrayal of what Prodigal - not to be confused with the sometimes-rock-and-sometimes-techno band of the same name from the eighties – brings to the table.  Stand, for example, serves up a tasteful variety of guitar driven rock (“Freedom”, “The Story” and “Stand”), classic rock (“By Faith”, “Remember Me” and “Ironies”) and heartfelt ballads (“Let Me Know Peace” and “Hear My Prayer”).  Rounding things out is the laid back rhythm and blues of “There Is Peace”.  All in all, Stand might not deliver anything new or groundbreaking (and without a doubt we have heard this countless times before) but, still, all its material is well constructed and holds up under repeated play, which is testament to the strength of Prodigal’s songwriting skills. 

Lead vocalist David Newell, with his warm and richly textured voice, is a near dead ringer for Orphan Project frontman Shane Lankford.  In other words, the guy is very, very good.  The guitar work of Troy Beaver and Lewis Layton is adeptly done as well, best exhibiting their gritty (and at times bluesy) playing on “The Story” and “Freedom”.  Keyboardist Dane Chase also deserves mention for providing the needed layered touch – while making occasional use of organ or a Styx-like piano – without overdoing it.  “By Faith” and “Remember Me” even find him trading off with Beaver and Layton- and holding his own. 

Production values, on the thin and muddy side of things, represent the lone area in which Stand falls short.  A certain element of big budget polish could not help but improve things here.

Album opener “By Faith” brings an up-tempo classic rock sound.  Standing out with its catchy hook, the song advances its distance with a trace of keyboards highlighting the backdrop (all the while intertwining with just the right amount of rhythm guitar).  Guitar and keyboard solos highlight the instrumental portions of a number giving rise to a faith based message:

My eyes can’t see.  All that you’ve done for me
By faith I do believe its true
Your grace.  My place assured because of You
By faith I do believe its true

“Freedom” moves in a bit more of a hard rock direction.  The song starts to a stylish keyboard solo that gives way to a forward mix of rhythm guitar.  Upholding the fixed setting for its first verse, “Freedom” transitions to an unwavering chorus focusing on the freedom one gains in Christ:

For freedom, freedom, freedom, Cross fought, blood bought
Freedom, freedom, freedom, Cross fought, blood bought
Freedom, freedom, freedom, Cross fought, blood bought
Freedom

The ballad “Let Me Know Peace” stands out with its commercial sensibilities.  Characterized by its notable melody and tasteful use of piano, the song picks up in pace upon acquiring its second chorus when the rhythm guitar steps forward with just the right amount of edge.  Very well done.  “Let Me Know Peace” talks about the need for God:

As my pain faded, my guilt abated
I try to stand on my own again
Soon peace I traded, my strength then faded
I try but only to fail again
Try though I might I can’t stand on my own
I fall on my face before Your mercy on my own
Oh, wretched man that I know yes I am
I need power from You to stand

Up-tempo rocker “The Story” has a bit of a Daniel Band-like feel to it.  The song delivers plenty of variety, opening to a church organ during its introduction before moving on to its guitar edged verse portions and layered chorus highlighted by the warm vocal flavorings of David Newell.  The story in question is the story of Christ:

Hammer, nail.  Torn veil.  Tempers flare, temper snared.
Death kicked, devil licked.  The earth shaken.
Heaven quakin’

Blood stained,  Savior named.  Angels call, guards fall
Stone rolled, clothes fold.  The body raised, heaven praised

The albums title track maintains the hard rocking direction.  “Stand” amalgamates a mid-tempo blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards during its first and second verse, not gaining momentum until reaching a catchy chorus delivered in anthem-like fashion.  A keyboard solo prevails over the instrumental section of a song touching upon the issue of spiritual warfare:

We are soldiers of the Light.  Faith, hope, love weapons of choice
Rescue from darkness of the night, march together with one voice

Every mission has a cost and there are casualties it’s true
But we must take up own cross and do what me must do

“Hear My Prayer”, the albums second ballad, is upheld its full length by a joining of piano, string accompaniments and acoustic guitar (with occasional touches of rhythm guitar).  While somewhat formula in nature and reflecting a bit too much of a CCM-ish feel for my taste, “Hear My Prayer” is well constructed and showcases a fine melody.  “Hear My Prayer” proves a worshipful piece:

Falling tears, fill my face again
Fighting battles, that I can’t win
Here I am, like before
Crying out to heaven’s door

Time after time, I come to this place
To find release and amazing grace

“Remember Me” gets underway quietly only to pick up in pace as the rhythm guitar kicks in.  Immediately launching into its up-tempo chorus, the song can best be describes as a quality example of classic rock with its extended instrumental break – featuring a very well done lead guitar and keyboard trade off – and lyrical direction written from the standpoint of the thief at the time of the crucifixion:

Remember me – when You come into Your own
Remember me – take me to Your home

Said the thief upon the tree
Your blood can cover me
I am the guilty man
Forgive for what I am and remember me

The six minute “Ironies” gives rise to some southern rock flavorings.  The song is shored up by an acoustic guitar mixed with an occasionally rhythm guitar during its verse portions, a highlighting vestige of organ adding to the moving scene to bring out the best in the emotionally charged chorus that follows.  Prodigal puts everything together on this one: great hook, pleasing instrumental portions and heartfelt vocal performance.  “Ironies” confronts the issues of faith, doubt and fear:

I hold to faith but I have doubt, I don’t have it all figured out
I hold to life though I’ll know death.  The weary bones will one day rest
I hold to pleasure though I have pain.  So much of life is lived in vain

There are ironies in life that may at times seem odd
But open up your eyes to see, they are the fingerprints of God
They are the fingerprints of God

“Patriot’s Call” starts to ringing bells followed by an acoustic guitar, the airy environs sustained as the song immediately begins to its atmospheric chorus.  Once the rhythm guitar takes a hold of the mix, the song moves through its verse portions at the faster tempo as keyboards accentuate the backdrop.  “Patriot’s Call” was written in tribute to those in our armed forces serving overseas:

Patriots called to take up arms.  Defeat the foes that intend harm
We must stand against all foes, we’ll lift our hands in surrender

I can see it in their eyes, they spread hatred and their lives
The price is high, we know it
Good me die, their blood cries out

Closing things out is “There Is Peace”, a laid back number reflecting a rhythm and blues influences with its amalgamation of acoustic guitar, piano and organ.  The overall feeling conveyed is one of worship, not only musically but lyrically as well:

And there is peace, there is peace
Through the power of the Spirit, there is peace
There is peace, there is peace
Through the power of the Spirit, there is peace

Stand is a good Christian rock album.  As previously stated, however, you will not find anything new or groundbreaking here; irregardless, Prodigal gives us ten good songs backed by top of the line lead vocals, quality musicianship and well thought out lyrics.  Production remains the only area of improvement worth noting.  If your musical tastes range from Resurrection Band to Petra (and everything in between) then Stand comes with a strong recommendation.

Track Listing: “By Faith” (3:15), “Freedom” (4:42), “Let Me Know Peace” (3:54), “The Story” (4:04), “Stand” (4:20), “Hear My Prayer” (3:44), “Remember Me” (3:58), “Ironies” (5:51), “Patriot’s Call” (4:51), “There Is Peace” (3:39)

Musicians
David Newell – Lead Vocals
Troy Beaver – Guitars
Lewis Layton – Guitars
Dan Chase – Keyboards
Mike Castro – Bass
Lyle Hock - Drums

 

Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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