- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2006 1 Sep
- Ain't Nothing Wrong with That
- Deliver Me
- Jesus Is Just Alright
- Thrill of It
- Love Is the Only Way
- Thankful 'n' Thoughtful
It's already been three years since we last heard from Robert Randolph & The Family Band with their Grammy nominated studio debut
There's no questioning the proficiency and energy with which Randolph and company play. But 2002's
It was time well spent. By placing more emphasis on tightly constructed songs instead of recapturing the improvisation of their stage show, they've come up with their most accessible and irresistible album to date. The songs again come in small doses on
"Ain't Nothing Wrong with That" is about as strong an opener as you'll find with its pounding rhythm and full background vocal. If the awesome funk of "Deliver Me" doesn't raise your pulse, be sure to check it. "Thrill of It" recalls Kravitz, not to mention dc Talk's "Mind's Eye," and it could serve as the album's single—it's being featured as the part-time opening song for ABC's Saturday night college football games this season.
The band's sound has attracted some cool guests too. Leela James lends her soulful pipes to the ballad "Stronger," probably the best
Though the songs are a big step in the right direction, Randolph and his band are still more about their sound than the content. They've never been particularly explicit in their spirituality, though it does seem subtler this time, relying on general themes of life and love.
"Thrill of It" decries complacency in a sinful world, but ultimately doesn't say offer more than, "It might hurt just a little bit while I'm trying to figure it out/I'm on this ride for the thrill of it/Living the dream that's what life's all about." The opener "Ain't Nothing Wrong with That" is a playful invitation to people of every race and nation, but there's a lyric that may unintentionally raise a few eyebrows—"I don't know what I've been told/When the music gets down in your soul/It makes you wanna lose control and there ain't nothing wrong with that." And though Randolph means it harmlessly, "Angels" is less about higher power than it is about faith and self-esteem restored through romance—"You've got me believing in angels/You see things in me I don't see … You've got me believing in me."
Still, you can find expressions of faith here if you choose to. The bouncy gospel ballad "Blessed" touches on the good feelings inspired by faith that cause others to search for a reason to believe, and "Deliver Me" offers up a generic but applicable prayer for relief. But maybe the music simply speaks for itself, like the mostly instrumental funky gospel groove of "Thankful 'n' Thoughtful." These guys aren't trying to evangelize or reinvent the gospel through this album. They're simply celebrating their gifts through a musical party—everyone's invited and you won't want to miss it.