You Are the Light
A brown-haired, blue-eyed acoustic singer-songwriter, working on his newest album with producer Ed Cash, co-writer of “How Great Is Our God” … it must be — but it’s not — Chris Tomlin. But is he as good (and as cute)?
Such was my line of thought upon opening Josh Blakesley’s fourth album You Are the Light. Not fair, I know, to immediately draw a comparison between one of the biggest names in Christian contemporary music and this relative greenhorn on the basis of their shared musical association with Ed Cash. So I did my best to put all comparisons with Tomlin (swoon) out of my mind as I started listening.
Some comparisons were unavoidable as the musical direction on this album does occasionally wander into territory paved by Tomlin and other Christian contemporary acoustic rock artists. Consequently it feels a little cut-and-paste in places. However, for the most part, each of these seven tracks is well composed, richly layered and beautifully arranged.
The band plays expertly and cohesively and largely manages to avoid clichés, establishing their own distinctive sound within this genre. Blakesley’s vocals flounder, however, alongside the strength of the band and at times seem lost within its sound. In the first few tracks Blakesley fails to provide the vocal conviction and charisma that the song requires.
He warms up in the latter half of You Are the Light and, as a result, the last two tracks (the joyful proclamation of “At the Name” and the plaintive plea in “All of Me”) are the most memorable and engaging on this album. The brevity (or perhaps the song choices) works against Blakesley here, as it feels like his singing and song writing talents are not fully showcased.
The well-crafted music and hit-and-miss vocals meet in the middle to produce an album that is somewhat catchy and uplifting, but still more average than it has the potential to be. You Are the Light shows that Josh Blakesley is no Chris Tomlin yet, given more time and room to grow artistically, he could well be a contender in his own right.
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