This is the album where the Newsboys really started to hit their stride. With their fourth album, the Newsboys went from an average pop/rock group to one that would produce great hits such as "Shine," "Breakfast," and "Take Me to your Leader," within a few short years.
The difference? Enter Steve Taylor. Acting as a songwriter/producer, Steve Taylor's unique and fun lyrical style combined with Peter Furler's rapidly improving songwriting skills to transform the Newsboys' sound into the catchy/fun-loving style they have now become famous for. Granted, this album is only the stepping stone towards future masterpieces, and it's certainly not perfect, but already several gems on the album showcase the Newsboys now-signature sound.
Strong cuts include the title track and "Strong Love" - two catchy and upbeat songs that showcase Steve Taylor's lyrics talents: "And some go for broke/like headless chicken folk - inspiring jokes about 'poultry-in-motion'." Lyrically, the themes range from boldness in faith ("I'm Not Ashamed") to reconciliation ("We Come Together") and God's unconditional love ("Love Comes True").
While this album is very 90's pop-oriented, there are some strong rockers in the mix ("I Cannot Get You Out of my System" and the DeGarmo & Key cover "Boycott Hell"). Other highlights include the keyboard-driven "Love Comes True" and "Lost the Sky Again" - where listeners are treated to a few guest raps by Steve Taylor.
Overall, this album is very keyboard-oriented, since Jody Davis did not join the group until their next album Going Public. As a result, the album has a slightly-annoying early 90's feel and sounds pretty dated by today's standards. There are also a couple of missteps on the album - the modernized hymn song "Where You Belong/Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" is kind of a snoozer, while Steve Taylor's raps don't really fit the Newsboys' sound too well (think Michael W. Smith's "Love Crusade").
Other than that, this album is not a bad starting point for the Newsboys as we know them, but you could tell that the best was still yet to come. The Taylor/Furler collaboration is definitely a winning formula that would bring the Newsboys countless hits throughout the next decade. This album is definitely worth checking out for those fans who want to see just how it all really started.- Review date: 12/24/04, written by Sherwin Frias
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