- reviewed by Christa Banister Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2006 1 Oct
- Everything Not Her
- The Most
- Knock Down
- Was It Ever Really Mine
- You're That Way
- Dish and the Spoon
- Better Love
- Hurt Me Like a Good Friend
- Mary Jane
Although Jon Troast may not be a household name yet, though he's probably hoping that'll change sooner than later, Christian music fans will definitely recognize a few of the artists who contributed to the singer/songwriter's Second Story album. Ably produced by Mitch Dane ( Jars of Clay , Bebo Norman ), it features Stephen Mason (Jars of Clay) on electric guitar, lap steel, and banjo, as well as Andrew Osenga ( Caedmon's Call , The Normals ) on background vocals. Their performances are certainly a highlight, but it's Troast in the spotlight here with his catchy melodies and clever songwriting.
With his raspy vocals and laidback folksy sound, it would be easy to compare Troast to troubadours like David Gray and Damien Rice. But when all is said and done, his worldview is far too optimistic. With thoughtful insights on everything from relationships ("Everything Not Her," "The Most") to his roots ("Family"), each song has a positive take-away value without resorting to cheese—a rare feat.
In "Hurt Me Like a Friend," Troast writes about the power of redemption: "And we've all got a second story/Let's confess them all before we live instead an empty shell that we don't even like ourselves." Although many of his songs don't explicitly address his personal faith in Christ, Troast pontificated in "Was It Ever Really Mine" about the promise of heaven one day: "And I've got mansions waiting in the sky/Where the rivers run by, never run dry/There are highways of gold, room for this soul/I don't think Jesus would lie."
Unlike a lot of albums that lose steam by the end, Troast's work is a tighter 10-song collection where no single track overpowers the rest. Much like Sufjan Stevens, the Wisconsin native incorporates unusual time signatures and instrumentation into the mix, keepings things interesting from beginning to end.
"When I was 16, I borrowed my brother's guitar a few times, and I got hooked," Troast says. "I spent hours in my bedroom in the basement, learning songs from the radio and writing some pretty basic lyrics." Thankfully, that persistence certainly paid off for everyone willing to give Second Story a listen.
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