It's been two years already since Third Day released their first studio record as a foursome (after original guitarist Brad Avery left to pursue other interests). Revelation was a return to a more southern rock approach after their successful more contemporary release, Wherever You Are. Now, with a brand new project, titled Move, Third Day channels even more of their southern roots, harkening back to their earlier days, especially the acoustic-driven Time, and marries it with the rock flair of Revelation. The end result? A healthy helping of southern hospitality that grooves and rocks hard at times and offers more of the worshipful songs fans have come to expect from the band.
Third Day has been on a roll. Revelation was a grand step in the right direction after Wherever You Are, and Move is the next step in the band's current musical evolution. Right out of the gate, Move is off to an intense start with "Lift Up Your Face," an edgy southern rock number that was cowritten with the Rinehart brothers from NEEDTOBREATHE and features smart vocal support from The Blind Boys of Alabama. It's soulful and it's destined for getting stuck in the listener's head. From there, "Make Your Move" has that edgy, gutsy rock attitude that "You Make Me Mad" had on Conspiracy No. 5. It's got a delicious baseline and an undeniable Third Day sound. But after these two grand openers, any fan of the band's lighter work will be relieved to hear "Children Of God" - a softer, more worshipful approach that could have fit on either of the Offerings projects as it features the New Hope Academy Children's Choir for support. The track works well, but being sandwiched between "Make Your Move" and the anthemic "Surrender" is an odd choice. It throws off the album's momentum a bit, especially when the track closes with just the Children's Choir echoing the chorus.
"Surrender" leads off the remainder of Move with a return to the edgier sound of the album's beginning, but utilizes Mark Lee's skillful guitar talents and string accompaniment to give it a bit of a backporch twang before it goes for a rather epic ending. It's quite easily another highlight on the record. But from here, Move begins to lose steam just a bit. Each track that follows can stand on its own, but the album gets off to such a strong start that it might be asking too much for them to keep it going throughout the entire tracklisting. Even on Revelation, they made the wise decision to push the infectious "Otherside" to the middle of the record to keep the album from being too top-heavy. At the same time, it's difficult to disregard the rest of the record as filler since each track has highlight moments.
Thanks to Paul Moak's lively production, Move's softer moments never feel sanded down or over-produced to satisfy most daytime radio listeners (like how much of Wherever You Are sounded). "Trust In Jesus" is an encouraging anthem for the Christian life while "Follow Me There" has pounding drums and a piano lead for a song that sounds like it could have easily fit on Time. "Gone" is a feisty acoustic rocker featuring background vocals from NEEDTOBREATHE front man Bear Rinehart and also has that Time feel. "What Have You Got To Lose" is a ballad encouraging listeners to lay their burdens down, with the unashamedly southern twang of "I'll Be Your Miracle" following. "Everywhere You Go" picks things up a bit once again with an infectious rhythm and chorus ("Everywhere You go, will you take me with You? / Everywhere You lead, I want to be by Your side. Everyone You love, I want to love just like You love me. Everywhere You go, I want to go there"). "Sound of Your Voice" is the album's latest acoustic duet, this time featuring labelmate Kerrie Roberts. It isn't quite as memorable as Revelation's "Born Again," which featured Flyleaf's Lacey Mosely, but it's a wonderful worship original. To close the record, Third Day offers another encouraging anthem, "Don't Give Up Hope," to leave the listener with a reminder, once more, that there's light at the end of the tunnel. It's an effective way to close a strong album.
While some of the real standout songs seem to cause a few of the album's later tracks to blend together and pale in comparison, repeat listens breathe more life into those songs. In the end, Move showcases some of the best Third Day has to offer. Whether it's better than Revelation or some of their other previous installments (like Wire or Conspiracy No. 5) is something to leave up to the listener to decide, but it does feel safe enough to say that Third Day's Move is a dozen tracks of southern rock goodness.
- PReview date: 8/6/10, Review date: 10/17/10, written by John DiBiase of Jesusfreakhideout.com