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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Red Letter Day

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2002 1 Sep
Red Letter Day
Sounds like … the Latin and rhythm-and-blues-flavored inspirational pop of Avalon, Freddie Colloca, and early Crystal LewisAt a Glance … it's a little hard to take the funky R&B dance pop sound seriously, but The Goads nevertheless do a fair job with it.

Reading the life story of The Goads is kind of like reading a modern-day version of the Old Testament book of Job. The four members are among the seven children of Jack Goad, founder of Goad International Ministries. Jack was a homeless man who came to know Christ when he was shown compassion the night he spent at a church. His conversions eventually led to him taking his message of redemption on the road with his wife and family. Tragedy struck the Goads in 1975 when Jack suffered an aneurysm while driving the family home after a concert. The resulting accident took the life of Jack's wife, Martha, and nearly killed their daughter Carolyn (one of The Goads, who was six at the time). Seven years later, a house fire claimed Jack's life, leaving the Goad children without parents. Incredibly, they pressed on thanks to their strong faith and familial bonds. Goad International has continued, distributing nearly $45 million in food, clothing, and medicine to people all over the world, as well as 7 million Bibles. Additionally, The Goads have reached out to over 10,000 youth and families as part of JAM Street ministry. They're truly an inspiring family who have persevered in their faith and ministry to impact the lives of others.

Goad brothers Curt, Tim, and Rick also happen to be ordained ministers; and the three joined with their sister Carolyn to begin a music ministry, albeit a somewhat sporadic one. Their first album, Hour of Praise, was released in 1987, followed by 1991's Holy Territory. Then after a ten-year hiatus, The Goads released A Love So Real on Pamplin. Now with a completely different record label and distribution company, The Goads release Red Letter Day, their most aggressive-sounding album to date … perhaps too aggressive. The four siblings' music always has been comparable to Avalon's inspirational, adult contemporary dance pop. Just as that group embraced a more aggressive sound for their Oxygen album, so The Goads kick it up a notch on Red Letter Day. Half of the album's 11 tracks feature groovin' dance pop with elements of R&B and Latin. In fact, I'd argue that "Wake Up and Dream," with its Spanish guitars and percussion, is more Latin sounding than Freddie Colloca's Latin pop. "Unconditionally" easily could be a teen pop anthem by Plus One or Rachael Lampa. There are times when The Goads pull of this sound fairly well, but more often than not it sounds a little forced and clichéd. "Bigger Than the World," "Unconditionally," and the title track in particular sound just a little too youthful and urban for The Goads.

The four siblings are more convincing on the typical-sounding adult contemporary tracks. On "Run to Me," a glossy inspirational pop ballad along the lines of Kathy Troccoli and 4Him, Carolyn delivers a strong vocal performance, singing, "Run to me, when you're feeling lonely / Run to me, when you feel afraid / For I'm the one, the one you can depend on / I will always be your friend / I will love you till the end." On "No Other," Carolyn sounds much like Crystal Lewis in a powerful pop gospel ballad; impressively enough, all the vocals seem to be by The Goads, even though it sounds like a guest gospel choir. The piano ballad "Why," not to be confused with Nichole Nordeman's piano ballad of the same title, marvels at God's love for us despite our sinful nature. "You've Been There for Me" bears lyrical similarity to Michael W. Smith's "Pray for Me," and sounds like a Scott Krippayne ballad. Then there's the soulful "There Is a God," with gentle R&B beats layered with a guitar riff that was probably inspired by James Taylor, but sounds exactly like the opening strains of the theme song to the TV classic "MASH."

The two primary talents among The Goads are Carolyn, who sings most of the lead vocals, and Rick, who wrote much of the music and plays keyboards on several tracks. Really, it's not a bad album if you like Avalon's dance pop or the inspiring ministries of Phillips, Craig, & Dean, River, or Regi Stone. As far as the production goes, industry vets Regie Hamm and Jim Cooper do an admirable job creating slick dance-pop grooves with all the production gimmicks: Latin guitars, smooth R&B loops, electronic effects, etc. Red Letter Day is not an innovative album by any means, nor is it likely to score huge radio success. It nevertheless deserves merit as a well done project that helps propel the ministries of Goad International and spread the love of Jesus to people who desperately need to hear it.