Thursday, July 11, 2013

Music Review: Blue Mountain by Brandon Heath

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Many fun songs with some good messages
Cons: Theme doesn't quite work; a couple of the songs
The Bottom Line:
Life lessons from folks
Living around Blue Mountain
In mostly good songs

Brandon Heath Invites Us to Come on Up Blue Mountain 

I got so focused on which artists I listen to were releasing new Christmas music this year that I almost missed the fact that Brandon Heath was releasing a new disc.  Fortunately, I happened to catch a Tweet talking about Blue Mountain, so I got it.  This one takes a few listens, but the effort is worth it.

There is a bit of a theme or a story to the songs here, at least according to Brandon.  These songs are written from the point of view of the citizens of a fictional town called Blue Mountain somewhere in the Appalachians.  Honestly, if I hadn't read that in the notes that came with my CD, I wouldn't have gotten it since many of these songs work on their own.  It does explain a couple of them, however.  "Paul Brown Petty," a tribute to the everyman who leaves behind a legacy, is a prime example.  "Dyin' Day" is the strangest song here - a song about a man about to be executed sharing his hope in God.  It's a nice idea, but it doesn't quite work.  Frankly, I don't think it even works as an extended metaphor.

The fact that we're in the Appalachians also explains the style here. Brandon has taken his normal soft rock and infused just a hint of country.  That's the part that takes some getting used to.  While songs like "The Harvest," "Jesus in Disguise," and "Love Does" have plenty of Brandon's classic rock, songs like "Diamond," "Love Will be Enough for Us" and "He Paid It All" definitely have some country flavor to them.  It's just a hint, so don't go running from the mountain until you give it a shot.  Just be prepared for something a little different.

There are plenty of great gems here.  Three of them are easily favorites, and they all have a little country tinge.  What does that say about me since I don't normally listen to country?  Anyway, "Diamond" is a toe tapping number written from the point of view of a miner who is comparing the precious stones he looks for to the diamond God is trying to uncover inside him.  It's not the more original idea, but it really works well.  Next up is "Hands of the Healer," which reminds us that if we are going to pray about something, we then need to let it go.  Finally, there's "He Paid It All," a song of praise to Jesus for all He has done for us.

And there are several more songs that I enjoy.  "The Harvester" is a challenge to share our faith.  "Blue Mountain," the third song on the disc (don't ask me why) paints a very pretty picture of this town we're visiting.  And "In the Dust" reminds us of our hope of the resurrection.

It's not that there are any bad songs here.  Some of them just don't work that well.  I already talked about "Dyin' Day."  "Love Will be Enough for Us" is a decent enough love song, but it doesn't really grab me.  And "Jesus in Disguise" is another song that just doesn't quite feel fully developed to me.

Blue Mountain is definitely a bold choice thematically and stylistically for Brandon Heath.  While I don't think it quite works out as well as he wanted it to work, it's still a collection of songs worth owning.

CD Length: 42:27
1. The Harvester
2. Jesus in Disguise
3. Blue Mountain
4. Diamond
5. Love Will be Enough for Us
6. Love Does
7. Paul Brown Petty
8. In the Dust
9. Dyin' Day
10. Hands of the Healer
11. He Paid it All

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