When Warren Barfield first surfaced on the music scene armed with the new hit singles "My Heart Goes Out" and "Mistaken" along with a popular record, no one could have guessed the unfortunate events that would ensue. A delayed sophomore project, the severe hospitalization of his sister, and the death of a close friend all ran their course in Barfield's life. With so many obstacles placed in front of them, some may have chosen to simply give up; however, this artist found a new label home, kept pushing forward with his career, and turned those experiences into the catalyst for his new work, Reach.
Given the trials Barfield has faced recently, Reach opens appropriately with "I believe there's a time in everyone's life when everything falls/ I believe there's a time in everyone's life when they can't find any hope at all/ I've been there..." ("I'll Be Alright"). A similar mentality - one that speaks honestly about pain and hardship while remaining hopeful - appears to be the theme spanning through Reach. "Closer" boldly proclaims "I'm on top of the world and my world is upside down and all I have is You/ Come closer than ever...All I need is You." Living for something more than what this world has to offer ("Beyond The Walls") and finding grace in Christ ("Saved") are also topics that are woven inside of this new disc.
Not only does it seem Barfield has embraced a new lyrical approach but also a new musical one as well. Whereas much of his first offering sounded as though it was crafted specifically with radio success in mind, Reach explores new ground for this singer. The opening track ("I'll Be Alright") is the first, and possibly best, example of change by beginning with blues inspired guitar work that later takes a turn ending with Barfield's background vocals sounding somewhat similar to a gospel choir. Elsewhere the funk vibe on "Unleashed" and the light rock feel of "Shadow" lead even further into the new territory explored by Barfield. Finally, the closing title track brings to mind some of his earlier work, only in a quieter fashion.
It's obvious Warren Barfield has grown as an artist, which is evidenced on his sophomore outing. While not forsaking his roots, this album displays new signs of life for Barfield, making Reach a worthy listen.- Review date: 3/4/06, written by Lauren Summerford
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