After a significant amount of publicity and a handful of charting radio singles, MIKESCHAIR returns to the CCM scene with their fourth studio release, All or Nothing. The 11-track album serves as a follow-up to 2011's Beautiful Life, and carries itself in a similar fashion to its predecessor. For better or worse, this creates a air of familiarity around the project, beginning with the first track.
The album opens with "All or Nothing," a radio-friendly tune with a dance vibe. Although one of the stronger tracks on the album, it doesn't particularly stand out, which is disappointing. This track is followed by "Loved by You," characterized by a light-hearted melody and lyrics like, "there's not a single doubt, You know me inside out … I'm never on my own, forever Yours alone. I can't escape the truth; it's so good to be loved by You."
"All I Can Do" is a good song, but lacks the originality required to become a classic. The chorus speaks truth and sincerity as it rings out, "all I can do is thank You for this life I never deserved, wanna thank You for the grace I know I don't have to earn ... all I can do is say thank You." "People Like Me" is one of the album's stronger songs, with a unique melody line featuring guest vocals from Matthew West. His addition brings fresh texture to an album which has grown stale at this point, and serves as a turning point for All or Nothing. From here, the songs take on a slower tempo and a more deliberate message, but bleed together and generally fail to make an impression, until "Forever Faithful." While the song's lyrics seem recycled from a conglomerate of Christian music, they are at least catchy.
The closing track, "All to Jesus (I Surrender All)," is a re-crafted version of the classic hymn, "I Surrender All." It is by far the best song on the album, offering a fresh take on the original, without significantly changing or defacing it. Regardless of whether or not you purchase the entire album, this song alone is worth the download.
While All or Nothing is an acceptable album, it does little but add more noise to an already swamped genre. Not much stands out, and all has been done before. It can be difficult to separate the sound of MIKESCHAIR from CCM artists that sound increasingly similar, such as Rush of Fools, Tenth Avenue North, Sanctus Real, and others. Artistically, the album fails to crescendo and define itself, with too many songs sounding similar.
The album's lyrics flow well with the melodies, but fail to stand on their own as poetry, and never delve into a deeper meaning. The message of the album is to be praised, however, with the powerful themes of hope, healing, and worship taking center stage. The gentlemen of MIKESCHAIR have never backed down from their faith, and are once again revealing their hearts and passion for the world.
Although this may not be their best offering, listeners who have enjoyed MIKESCHAIR's previous releases will likely still enjoy All or Nothing. On the other hand, those who have yet to experience an immersion into the band's discography would do best to turn to an earlier project.- Review date: 4/20/14, written by David Craft of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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