American Idol has jump-started the careers of several of today's top singers. Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, and more. And like Daughtry, you don't have to win the competition to make it in music. Here's where Idol contestant Chris Sligh comes in with his band Half Past Forever. Though Chris was with the band before he tried out for American Idol, the aftermath of the show resulted in them being signed to a record label and having an album put out nationally. And fans of the show should be rather pleased with the band's debut, Take A Chance on Something Beautiful.
The album opens with a semi-funky bass line, then jumps right into the first song, "Waiting," serving as a pretty upbeat start to the album (think Relient K meets Michael W. Smith). The tempo remains about the same through the next song but starts to slow down a bit by the fourth track, "Know," and gets very slow on the next track, "In A Moment" (which features a violin-filled intro reminiscent of MercyMe's "Homesick"). After this, the tempo of the songs seems like a roller coaster. Fast for a few songs, it then slows down for a few more, and then is back to fast-paced again. Regardless, it's set up and delivered almost perfectly.
In the song "Need," Sligh sings, "Don't let go of love, it's everything you need." This is just one of the examples of the themes of hope, love, and waiting on God that are present throughout the album. The vocalist's attention seems really focused on God, "I've got the tunnel vision, I've got my eyes on only You." In the almost-punk rock song "Closer," he says, "Can You pull me closer to You, like I've never failed Your love" Chris recognizes God's unconditional love and redemption, and that He will bring His people in to Him when they need it. This seems to be rare nowadays, as the mainstream spotlight, unfortunately, tends to cause bands to water down their message in order to fit in on MTV and radio. But while Half Past Forever is taking that route, the focus continues to stay on their Creator, despite the world watching over them. And no doubt huge fans of American Idol will be checking out this album, even if just to see where Chris Sligh is these days.
The album ends with one song in two tracks, "Beautiful (reprise)" and "How Long." "Beautiful" starts off as if the listeners are carousing at a royal ball, with a beautiful orchestra in the background. Then the soft drums and guitar come in, followed by the quiet and intimate vocals. Sligh sings "All I wonder is how long, how long, how long till I get to be with You? How long, my heart is longing for You." Then it bursts into "How Long," and he sings about his love and longing for Jesus, until it ends with that same question the track before it first proposed.
Although a good mixture of adult contemporary and rock, Half Past Forever still isn't quite a must-buy album. It remains, however, a very good debut for the band. I wouldn't be surprised to hear them on mainstream radio stations in the near future. Listeners of pop stations seem to like just about anything or anyone that comes from American Idol, and there's no reason that Half Past Forever should be exempt from that.- Review date: 7/7/07, written by Scott Fryberger
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