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Chasing the Horizon

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2001 1 Jan
Chasing the Horizon

For those unfamiliar with the name Mitch McVicker, he's the young singer/songwriter who was touring with Rich Mullins when they got in an auto accident, which tragically ended Rich's life. It's been a slow road to recovery for Mitch, both physically and spiritually. But in the time since the accident, Mitch has experienced modestly impressive sales of his independent debut and received a Song of the Year Dove Award for "My Deliverer," which appeared on the posthumous Rich Mullins project, The Jesus Record.

Understandably and unfortunately, expectations have run high for Mitch to carry on the legacy of Rich Mullins. The simple truth is that few, if any, are up to the task of filling the Mullins-shaped gap left in the music industry. Lots of artists come close to capturing Rich's quirky and insightful lyrics or his big folk production, but they manage to capture only one aspect of Rich's talents and personality (The Ragamuffin Band and Andrew Peterson come the closest). Mitch would certainly be one of the finalists for the "sounds most like Rich" award, but his songwriting (though Mullins-esque) just isn't on the same level as his late friend's. While the music has beefed up considerably from his last project, the songs themselves still feel a little too routine.

This is not to imply that Mitch's music is without its merits and ministry value. "Emmanuel" (which means "God with us") does a nice job of personalizing the meaning of that word, reminding us that God is with us even in our everyday struggles. "Upside Down" offers food for thought about all we have to be thankful for as well as all the stuff we don't need. Listeners will also likely be moved by "Rich's Song," Mitch's loving tribute to his friend. The song is preceded by a solemn and respectful 25-second gap, which, though appreciated, may also confuse listeners into thinking the CD is over. Perhaps it would have been more appropriate to close the album by pairing it with the actual closer, "Kingdom of the Heart," a longing look at the world to come. There's also a straightforward cover of Rich's "When You Love" from his Pictures In the Sky album. Many of the other songs fall into simplistic Tom Petty-sounding roots rock.

In many ways, Chasing the Horizon is a better album than Mitch's self-titled debut. However, that's mainly due to the production talents of Mark Robertson, who gave Mitch more of that Ragamuffin Band roots-rock sound for which his mentor was known. Mark also plays on the album, as do fellow Ragamuffins Rick Elias and Phil Madeira (as well as Steve Hindalong and many other legendary Christian session players). Fans of simple Christian folk music will likely be pleased with the results of Mitch's latest work. Though I hear new promise on this project, I'd recommend albums by Bebo Norman, Andrew Peterson, The Ragamuffin Band, and Chris Rice before this one.

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