double Bachmann

Make Over (Innocent Media)
My Friend Stephanie

Embrace (GrayDot)

Age of Faith

By Robert Gruber

Drue Bachmann is one busy guy. When he's not fronting his own band, My Friend Stephanie, he's providing bass and vocals for Age of Faith. He even finds time to work with fellow Virginia band the Throes (and last year had to recuperate from a serious auto accident while touring with them).

Maybe all this activity accounts for the less-than-frantic mood of My Friend Stephanie's debut disc, Make Over. Unlike much of today's alterna-pop stuff, which seems to suffer from neuroses and hypertension, Make Over is a friendly, evenly paced record which features the sort of dense, distorted guitar work and lumbering rhythms normally reserved for Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Songs like "In Light," "Confusion" and "Feel the Rain" take their time conveying Bachmann's thoughts on faith and love. "Embrace" is a worship song that could easily find its way into a modern rock hymnal: "Through the night I can see/The light of mercy that covers me/And I know You're all I need . . ."

This same beautiful song pops up as the title cut of Age of Faith's third album (their first on GrayDot). Favoring a clear, acoustic guitar driven sound, Age delivers potent, poetic gospel lyrics with conviction. Christian radio will probably jump all over "The Love of Jesus," which features a duet between singer Jimi Ray and Third Day's Mac Powell. Other songs include "Last One First" (inspired by Forrest Gump), and a spirited cover of Crowded House's "Something So Strong." Rootsier and more real now than on previous albums for Benson, Age of Faith are a great find for fans of Jars of Clay, Third Day and other alt-rock flavored acoustical jams.