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Sounds like … eclectic pop that sometimes recalls Josh Groban and Clay Aiken, but more often resembles the early '90s Christian pop of Clay Crosse and Michael EnglishAt a glance … there's variety in the music, Phelps' voice is impressive, but the often clichéd pop production and lyrics prevent Revelation from being as good as it could have beenTrack ListingArms Open WideHeart of HeartsLove Goes OnJust As I AmRevelationVirtuosoSatisfactionPerdoname Dios (Pardon Me God)God Will Take Care of YouBreak FreeLive Like a KingVirtuoso (reprise)
Most are familiar with David Phelps not as a solo artist, but as a member of the hugely popular Gaither Vocal Band. Still, Phelps has always dreamed of a solo career on the side, and has done three such projects in the last ten years—most recently, his 2001 self-titled album. Now he's giving it another go with Revelation, his first for Word/Warner and easily his most ambitious yet.
The 12 tracks are primarily simple expressions of faith, written or co-written by Phelps. There are a few soaring ballads that will appeal to fans of the pop standards sung by Josh Groban and Clay Aiken. Chief among them are a strong cover of Ceili Rain's poignant "Live Like a King" and the beautifully arranged, poetically worded "Love Goes On." Revelation is also surprisingly eclectic, adding a Latin pop ballad ("Perdoname Dios"), soulful jazz ("Break Free"), dance pop ("Virtuoso"), and R&B rock ("Satisfaction") to the mix. Phelps even delves into rock opera, fusing classical with pop on "Revelation," a strong-but-odd composition which imagines Christ's Second Coming with lyricism strangely reminiscent of Poe's "The Raven."
Are a stellar voice, inspirational lyrics, and song variety enough? I wish Revelation were as solid a pop album as Jonathan Pierce's recent For You, but it too often resorts to early '90s Christian pop cliché. Tracks produced by Regie Hamm generally hold up, but those helmed by Chris Harris tend to sound dated with the cheesy synthesizers (though his R&B contributions work well). Fans of Gaither Vocal Band and less discriminating pop listeners will embrace this, but Revelation would have benefited from more innovation in production and songwriting.