Randall Goodgame's name may not be familiar, but anyone who listens to Christian radio has undoubtedly heard a song he has written. Goodgame has penned several hit songs for Caedmon's Call, including "Only Hope," and "Hands of the Potter," and he co-wrote much of Caedmon's most recent album, Share the Well. Having shared the stage with many great songwriters such as Andrew Peterson, Jars of Clay, and Pierce Pettis, Goodgame has carved himself out a nice little corner in the highly underrated "folk/blues/rock" genre of Christian music.
Goodgame's latest project, War and Peace, showcases his seasoned songwriting skills and his buttery vocals, creating a "Sunday afternoon" atmosphere. The album begins with a trilogy of interrelated songs about Charlie Brown, adeptly titled "Part 1," Part 2," and "Part 3." Comparisons to Chris Rice's infamous "Cartoon Song," are inevitable, although Goodgame takes his cartoons a bit more serious. The Peanuts characters are the subject of the smooth folk rock songs. However, the lyrics seem to hold a deeper meaning of lamenting the loss of innocence and of simpler times in which Charlie Brown ruled the world. Unfortunately, amidst the sweet, heartfelt lyrics lies one of the cheesiest lines I have heard in a long time, "no more original snoop dog." That mishap aside, "Parts 1-3" start strong and set the tone for the rest of the album.
"Susan Coats' Pants," an upbeat song about thrift store pants, is next on the album. The song begins on a humorous note and fades into a more serious set of lyrics about the bravery of soldiers. "So Far Away," a smooth, piano-laden song carries on with the subject of war. Goodgame wrote the song for a friend who left his wife and child to be a soldier in Iraq for a year. "Share the Well," a hit single Goodgame wrote for Caedmon's Call follows. The song's sound is not as full as it is on Caedmon's album, and it is difficult to keep from comparing the two. Goodgame's lyrics about reaching out to the Dalits, India's untouchable caste, urges followers of Christ to take action. "The Legend of Pope Joan," leaves the serious and enters the absurd. Goodgame wrote the song as a joke for "The Weeklings," a group of songwriters who meet together, including Andrew Peterson. The beauty of "Pope Joan," is that Goodgame sings the song seriously, making it even more hilarious. "Dear America" follows, re-introducing the subject of war and patriotism. "The Opener," a song about opening up for another band is next. The song seems a bit out of place on War and Peace because it does not relate to any of the subjects Goodgame has addressed thus far. "She's Gone Forever" is one of the most sober songs on the album. It combines a country-twinged sound with lyrics about losing a loved one. "I Did Not Catch her Name," another song Caedmon's Call sang on Share the Well, closes War and Peace. Again, it is hard not to compare the delivery of the song to Caedmon's superior version, but the lyrics about a woman who had nothing and everything are very touching.
War and Peace, like its title suggests, is a bit of a paradox. On the one hand, it is a beautifully-written and skillfully delivered piece of art. On the other hand, it is a bit boring. Goodgame's vocals change little from song to song, and the whole album seems to melt together. Nonetheless, Goodgame is for the most part an excellent songwriter and fans of Andrew Peterson and Caedmon's Call should definitely check him out.- Review date: 10/15/05, written by Laura Nunnery
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