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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews


  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 Apr
Sounds like … what you might get if the adult contemporary Christian pop of Brian Littrell or 4Him were matched with the impressive musicianship and production of country-pop acts like Rascal Flatts or Keith Urban.At a glance … it's a shame that 33Miles gets bogged down by routine songs with hackneyed expressions of faith, because the group's musical talents and overall production are easily a cut above the average Christian AC pop.Track Listing What Could Be Better
Come with Me
Stand Amazed
There Is a God
Hold On
Thank You
I Can't Deny
Salvation Has a Name
This Is Now
The Best Man
When I Get Where I'm Going

Does 4Him minus 1 member equal 33Miles? Not exactly, though you can't help but compare the impressive vocalists, the Southern flavored adult contemporary, and the shared calling for the church. Their name a metaphor for Jesus' years of service on this earth, 33Miles is the result of three talented musicians coming together to amplify their skills under a common vision for ministry.

And that talent truly does set this group apart on their self-titled debut, polished to a pop-country sheen by producers Nathan Nockels (Watermark, Passion) and Sam Mizell (Jessie Daniels, Matthew West). Jason Barton (formerly of Christian boy band True Vibe) is an undeniably terrific vocalist, resembling Jody McBrayer (Avalon) crossed with a stronger Brian Littrell, and backed by tight harmonies from Chris Lockwood and Collin Stoddard. Moreover, these guys can actually play! Having studied at Berklee School of Music, Lockwood lets loose a few impressive guitar solos at times pleasantly reminiscent of REO Speedwagon, while Stoddard offers flashes of keyboard solos evoking the late Billy Preston.

If only this stronger sense of musicianship extended to the song selection (33Miles only co-wrote three). I'm a sucker for stuff like "The Best Man," a play-on-words offering a slightly new way to express strength and identity found in Jesus, and the cover of "When I Get Where I'm Going" (popularized by Brad Paisley) is a good choice. But the songs feel extremely rehashed when resorting to standard rhetoric about the hope of heaven ("What Could Be Better"), the transforming power of Christ ("Come with Me"), and testaments to God's existence ("Can't Deny," "There Is a God"). And no matter how well intentioned it is, you can't get more cliché d than "Hold On," trivializing hope with an overused title and generic platitudes.

But rubber-stamp Christian pop songs aside, the fact that this group's performances outshine such hackneyed material speaks well for them. If they pick stronger material, then this commercially viable trio is more than capable of outdistancing their peers.

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