Ex-Live frontman Ed Kowalczyk’s third solo record is filled with the kind of spiritual awakening and brilliantly layered modern rock production that we’ve come to expect from one of the most revered sons of York, PA.
Reflecting the dynamically polished sound of his 2010 solo debut, Alive, and closest in tone to the rose-colored consciousness of Live’s Songs From Black Mountain (2006), this album shows Kowalczyk’s gift for interpreting cryptic Biblicism for a mass audience. In “The One,” he faithfully declares, “I’ll never fall back just to follow,” while “Angels on a Razor,” one of several tracks featuring Monster-era guitar soundscapes from R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, offers arms-wide-open hope.
Ethereal, melodic hymnals like “Holy Water Tears” feature backing vocals by singer/songwriter Rachael Yamagata, and Kowalczyk explores the nature of man’s existence with bombastic eloquence in “The Watchman’s Lament.” Kowalczyk sings the simple refrain, “testify,” while snarling with the same kind of tension that made Live classics like “I Alone” so memorable.
A charismatic revival of humanistic themes, Kowalczyk’s latest album challenges the listener to follow him to someplace better.
– Mark Uricheck