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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Change in Your Pocket

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 Sep
Change in Your Pocket
Sounds like … Beatles-influenced pop/rock colored by Irish whistle, fiddle, pipes, and accordionAt a glance … Halligan's clever and heartfelt songwriting still shines, but the band's overall sound lacks some of the creative zest heard on previous albumsTrack ListingLike a TrainI'll Stick with My OwnMy Faith, Your PowerChange in Your PocketGold GodYou Just So Never KnowDead Presidents on ParadePencil in Your HandStompThis Is OctoberHotel HallelujahHallways of Always

Sometime in the last ten years, Bob Halligan Jr.'s wife Linda suggested he try recording Beatles-influenced pop/rock with a Celtic flavor. Thankfully he took her advice, and we've since been treated to the music of his band Ceili Rain.

Halligan's blessed with talents for mimicking John Lennon's voice and Paul McCartney's heartfelt pop melodies. He also has a gift for clever phrasing that clearly expresses his faith without proselytizing or relying on cliché, and that's still the case for much of Change in Your Pocket. "Pencil in Your Hand" is an outstanding piece of Christian songwriting about God using each of us to communicate his love letter to mankind. In "This Is October," he likens the baseball playoffs to embracing adulthood and living out our calling. And pay attention to "Gold God" with its change of perspective from love of money ("He extended my territory/Now I eat at the Ritz") to spiritual surrender.

There are, however, a few instances where Halligan tries too hard. Eulogizing friends and family by saying they're checking into the "Hotel Hallelujah" is a bit much. And while the title track admirably drives home the band's commitment to international relief organization Mercy Corps, the song ultimately feels like a public service announcement set to a weak melody; lackluster solos from Pat Boone and John Sebastian (Lovin' Spoonful) don't help it either.

A few song missteps aside, Change is primarily weakened by an overall lack of spunk heard on previous efforts, although the spirited Irish jig-rock "Stomp" comes close. This is more a production/arrangement issue than anything, with songs sticking close to a generic pop/rock sound that's colored by whistle, fiddle, pipes, and accordion. While it's all certainly likeable and recommendable enough, Ceili Rain has proven capable of better.