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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews


  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Mar
Sounds like … the thoughtful acoustic pop and folk of artists like Derek Webb, Andrew Peterson, Bebo Norman, Andrew Osenga, Todd Agnew, and Matt WertzAt a glance … the scaled-down folk of Deconstruction is not one of Justin McRoberts' catchier albums, but the songwriting is at times downright brilliant in its observations of the Christian faith and how we choose to live itTrack Listing Done Living America and the Soul A Hope Deferred Driving by the Accident Deconstruction When It Don't Come Easy Religion Poisons Everything On the Night You Were Betrayed Bullhorn Theory Hope Is Where We're Starting From Common Sense Until There Is No More Tomorrow My Only Victory

You could say Justin McRoberts was ahead of his time. When his label folded back in 2001, McRoberts decided he was better off continuing his career independently with complete control of his craft. It's been several years since, and more and more artists are following his example. Meanwhile, his seventh release offers further proof that it's still Christian folk/acoustic pop that has most of the brains these days.

Deconstruction begins with an illustration of perseverance as poignant as Mary Stevenson's "Footprints in the Sand" poem—"I spent the whole day running trying to catch the sun/But when the darkness overtook me, all my running had made me strong." As the album progresses, McRoberts shows a willingness to ask tough questions, such as human nature's need to observe tragedy ("Driving by the Accident"), the hypocrisies existing within today's Christian culture ("Deconstruction"), and the limitations of intellect compared to love ("Common Sense"). Despite its title, "Religion Poisons Everything" defends spirituality by noting that assigning blame is too easy, especially considering the limitations of science and politics.

A running theme through all of this is finding hope and comfort amidst life's trials, as expressed in "When It Don't Come Easy" and "Bullhorn Theory," with a tone reminiscent of Paul's Epistles. And "Until There Is No Tomorrow" beautifully challenges us to love without limits: "Sleep unguarded, but guard the sleepless/And love like the rain does/Never mind which ones are righteous." Closing things out is "My Only Victory," a powerful testimony of faith that assigns all joy and success to Christ alone.

Deconstruction provides some of McRoberts' deepest, most provocative songwriting to date, but the scaled-back instrumentation leaves the music slightly less catchy than previous efforts. Oh, it'll surely appeal to fans of the indie folk and coffeehouse artists, as produced by Mitch Dane (Bebo Norman) and longtime collaborator Masaki Liu (Five Iron Frenzy), with instrumental contributions by Andrew Osenga (Caedmon's Call), Steve Mason (Jars of Clay), and Ben Shive (Andrew Peterson). There's just not as much in the way of radio-friendly hooks. But then Justin McRoberts has never been one for the road well travelled. By "letting the songs breathe," he's brilliantly asking you to consider not only what you believe, but also whether you're living it.

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