Varietal Records released Jeremy Riddle's debut project Full Attention in 2007. The album's sole single "Sweetly Broken" rose to be the #6 most-played song on AC Christian radio, even before the album was released, back in 2006. Riddle's sophomore release, The Now And Not Yet, straying slighty from being simply a worship album, somewhat portrays a themed album upon seeing its cover artwork. It features a Lion and a Lamb resting right in the middle of an empty lot, with urban apartments bordering them. It looks like something out of Narnia, and made me wonder if the music content would be just as epic.
The Now And Not Yet opens with the worship anthem "Christ Is Risen." It does a favorable job of getting you excited about Jesus and His resurrection, and is a suitable start to the album. The only problem is that, once you've heard the whole album, it isn't a song that you might revisit very often. Following that is "Prepare The Way Of The Lord," which, once again, manages to follow through with the theme of the album artwork by painting a scene of Jesus coming to our world to establish his Kingdom. This one melodically has the feel of artists such as Delirious? and U2, even all the way down to the vocals.
The lovely ballad "Prayer For The Church" is next with its soothing piano melody. This one surely is a highlight and probably one of the more powerful songs in the entire set. It declares about the Church, "She is strong...Keep her moving, pressing on...Bringing justice, righting wrongs...Demonstrating now Your kingdom come, she's in step with You."
By this point, the album is fairly consistent, and the rest of the tracks can be hypothesized to be played out safely, avoiding any creative risk factors. The Now And Not Yet certainly plays it safe with tracks like "Bless His Name", "One Thing," and "The One The Only." The eleventh track, "Joyful Noise," is a cheesy attempt of leaving the listener with something to be excited about. The song feels forced, as if they needed another "fast song" just before the album ended. Jeremy Riddle's unique, raw voice serves especially well in slow songs, so anything too far off from that base sounds overworked. "I Am Redeemer" brings the album to a close, with Jesus knocking at the door, pleading for our trust. This last one is nice lyrically, but the melodies here just aren't very memorable.
Overall, fans of Jeremy Riddle's debut will no doubt find satisfaction in this second release, because although it isn't legendary, it is at least consistent. And the truth is that consistency will, at minimum, keep fans. I just wish there was a little bit more creativity devoted into The Now And Not Yet. More songs like "Prepare The Way Of The Lord," "Prayer For The Church," "Surrendered In Praise," and "To Be Like You" would have made this a much more well-rounded release. Hopefully we'll see more songs like those next time around.- Review date: 3/6/09, written by Ben Cardenas of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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