Wouldn't you hate it if everyone looked the same? Sounded the same? In the CCM industry, it's simply an everyday occurrence. New artists come out and all they are is the same artist we've all heard before but with a different name. Does newcomer Patrick Ryan Clark's debut Where Would I Be fit this CCM cliché or will he break the mold? The decision is ultimately yours but here's what I think...
The album opens with the string infused "What Was I Fighting For." Layered with incredible orchestration and an active percussion section, the song could easily be played on any AC radio station. Lyrically, the song is an honest approach to admitting our frailty while embracing the arms of God. "When All the World Falls" continues with this theme as Clark sings, "I lift me eyes when it feels like I can't escape all the doubt inside... You are unmoving. You are unshaking God. When all of the world falls." Again, musically, it has so many layers; it's very busy. Unfortunately, this distracts from the point of the song. Maybe a rawer or even more acoustic feel might make the song more heartfelt. "Mercy" carries more of this approach as it's all about crying to the Lord for His mercy. Even still, the song feels so polished that it loses some of its effectiveness.
Beautiful is understatement for the title track "Where Would I Be" as it opens with an incredible acoustic guitar and piano duet. Pure adoration for Jesus floods throughout this song. Sadly, at some points, it feels like you can't actually hear what he's saying, because the music overpowers his vocals. Regardless, the song is still incredible and worshipful. "You" is another excellent worship song as it declares that we belong to God, as Clark sings at the top of his lungs, "I'm Yours! I'm Yours!" Church leaders should look to using this song in upcoming worship services as it's easy to sing and lends itself to be sung with a congregation. Finishing the album is the theatrical "Because You Love." Percussion instruments fill the song with climactic booms. Echoing the theme that has been woven through all of the previous tracks, it comes to the great conclusion that we love because He first loved us.
So is Patrick Ryan Clark just another contemporary Christian artist? Does his music offer anything new? At this point, I would say that his music is in between. He does have a sound that resembles a lot of what is on adult contemporary radio, but I think there are better things to come. Clark's lyrics offer a great amount of transparency and honesty, but musically it's a little too polished. One thing can be said for sure; this is just the beginning and we should continue to hear great things come from Patrick Ryan Clark.- Review date: 8/22/11, written by Ryan Barbee of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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