showing growth

Jesus Freak (Forefiont)
DC Talk

By Robert Gruber

DC Talk has grown so much artistically that it hardly seems fair to compare them to themselves, circa late '80s / early '90s.

Back when they were first bringing Christian rap to the masses, they were ("yo, boyeee!") five years behind the times, bouncing around onstage in matching costumes:(I bet they have a hard time watching those old videos). Jesus Freak is DC Talk, superstars. Freed from the stagnant cheese of industry manipulation, the band has woven their individual tastes and discoveries into a rich, rewarding tapestry of truth and groove.

There's not a lot of rap on Jesus Freak It pops up occasionally. odd bursts of Toby here and there, filtered through vocal effects. Mostly the boys are singing, and doing it well; especially Kevin Max Smith, with his elegant, slightly Bono-esque style. Michael Tait, on the other hand, sounds like he's been listening to Seal, and the band as a whole has affected a retro'70s vibe that, while not exactly innovative, works for them.

Each song is a pastiche of styles that flow despite themselves. On "Day by Day" they work the chorus of the old Godspell tune into a new song about living daily for Jesus. The title cut has a distinctive Nirvana feel to it, from the clunky acoustic guitar opening to the raw electric chorus, while verses and bridge smooth out soulfully.

Lyrically, DC Talk has refined and refocused their message. "Like lt, Love It, Need It" speaks to the GenXer, with lines like "You'll never find peace of mind in your pool of self / You'll never find peace of mind in a sea of wealth / You'll never find peace of mind in your rock and roll.. .. I know you need some Jesus in your life." "Mind's Eye" celebrates Jesus with vivid imagery, complete with Billy Graham sample. "Colored People" is a plea for unity:

Pardon me, your epidermis is showing

I couldn't help but notice your shade of melanin'

I tip my hat to the colorful arrangement.

we gotta come together, and thank the Maker of us all..

No longer clownin', DC Talk has turned out a masterful album that's full of pleasant surprises.

gritty, sarcastic, folkish