Three years ago, Third Day released one of their most popular recordings to date, the more contemporary-styled soundtrack for hope, Wherever You Are. Now a Christmas album, two Chronology installments, and one less guitarist later, the rock quartet is ready to release one of their strongest recordings to date, Revelation.
The aptly titled album isn't quite about what its title might suggest, as the title track, "Revelation," boldly addresses the doubt and uncertainty many believers encounter during their walk when wondering what direction to go in next ("Give me a revelation / Show me what to do / ‘Cause I've been trying to find my way / I haven't got a clue / Tell me should I stay here / Or do I need to move Give me a revelation / I've got nothing without you"). And this is hardly the final chapter of an incredible musical journey. Opening with the attention-getting rock anthem "This Is Who I Am," the album is off to strong start right out of the gate. The production, this time presented by mainstream producer Howard Benson, is crisp and vibrant, never sacrificing the raw energy of a Third Day live show or feeling too polished for its own good. It was difficult not to be completely disenchanted with the CCM-friendliness of the band's last record, as much of it seemed fashioned for radio airplay and over-produced and sanded down of a lot of things Third Day fans have grown to like about the boys from Atlanta. Instead, Revelation brings back a bit of the edge of Wire along with the more southern leanings of Time, topping it all off with honest and real lyrics to help make this album potentially the band's most accessible effort yet. While "Cry Out To Jesus" was a big radio hit when Wherever You Are released, Revelation's "Call Your Name" is an unashamedly catchy pop rock anthem that surprisingly has a similar lyrical message to its radio single predecessor, just presented from Christ's own perspective this time around. Its longevity as the top song at radio for over six weeks just goes to show it's a song that sticks with you.
Powell's voice has also never sounded better as the opener, "This is Who I Am," helps establish the band's confidence and security in who they've become through their years together. Even when the guys slow it down for some folk-flavored ballads like "Born Again," which beautifully features Lacey Mosley from Flyleaf, or "Let Me Love You," a love song from God's perspective to us as His children, Third Day maintains a nicely organic and even intimate sound. And Mosley isn't the only talent to aid Third Day this time around. Chris Daughtry of mainstream rock band Daughtry, who is also a long time Third Day fan, offers background vocals on another album highlight, the rocker "Slow Down," while Lacey offers backup on "If I Run To You," and Robert Randolph provides some pedal steel guitar work on another standout track, the southern rock longing for eternity, "Otherside."
Revelation's only fault may be that its greatest strengths double as a minor weakness. Because of the raw energy and some of the more edgier, livelier material (especially in contrast to their last effort), some of the latter half of the record feels a bit like things drop off after such a bold start. It's the same kind of uneven energy that a record like Sanctus Real's We Need Each Other or Jars Of Clay's Good Monsters might suffer from a bit. While the record itself is rather a triumph from beginning to end, the album can tend to feel like it offers its best tracks up front making some of the tracks later in the record pale - even if just slightly - in comparison. This is unfortunate, too, because these songs are wonderful by themselves and with the record clocking in at thirteen tracks in just under forty five minutes, there isn't a song in the bunch you'd think to leave out. So while it may sound like a negative, there are much worse problems an album can have than a portion of it being too good for its own good.
Some might view Revelation as a bit of the same-old from Third Day since some of the main ingredients from previous records still make up the heart of this record, but this would be an unfair assumption. If the album doesn't grab the listener from Powell's soulful southern drawl and an accompanying acoustic before "This Is Who I Am" breaks wide open, closer attention to the words and themes that permeate the album should bring to light what is actually one of the strongest records so far this year. Revelation is an honest, emotional, vulnerable, beautiful, and delicious southern rock record.- PReview date: 5/15/08; Review date: 7/27/08, written by John DiBiase
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